Information Sharing Resources
All professionals who work with children, or with adults who are parents or carers, should know how and when to share information with other professionals in order to keep children safe.
In the majority of child protection tragedies, ineffective or lack of information sharing is a key factor. Here are resources for all practitioners who come into contact with children, young people and their families in Haringey:
Some points to remember about information sharing are:
- Never assume that other professionals are taking the action you would expect - check with them directly
- Check your terminology - as professionals, we all use our own jargon and 'short-hand' - this makes things easier between ourselves, but can confuse people who are not familiar with our language. Make sure that you are clear, especially when working with professionals in other disciplines
- Get feedback - find out what action another professional will take as a result of the information you have given them, and verify that it has taken place
7 Golden Rules for Information Sharing
Some professionals worry about their responsibility to keep information private under the Data Protection Act 1998 (external link) - but there are simple ways to make sure you share information appropriately:
- Remember that the Data Protection Act is not a barrier to sharing information but provides a framework to ensure that personal information about living persons is shared appropriately.
- Be open and honest with the person (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
- Seek advice if you are in any doubt, without disclosing the identity of the person where possible.
- Share with consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to share confidential information. You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, that lack of consent can be overridden in the public interest. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case.
- Consider safety and well-being: Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the person and others who may be affected by their actions.
- Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure: Ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those people who need to have it, is accurate and up-to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
- Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.
For more information, see the cross-government guidance Information Sharing: Guidance for practitioners and managers (PDF, 1.2MB).
Sharing information where there are concerns about Significant Harm
Professionals working with children, parents or adults in contact with children, should always share information with children's social care where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm. Sharing information under these circumstances is legitimate and in the public interest.