Information for those who work with children and their families
Good information sharing between professionals is vital in relation to child protection. Numerous learning and improvement case reviews, such as Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) show that children can be seriously harmed or die when professionals don’t share information. Professionals should always seek agreement to share information when it is right to do so and where this does not place a child or adult at risk. However, if there is no agreement, or if information is seen as “third- party”, this should NEVER be used as an excuse for not sharing information, holding a professional’s meeting or having a conversation with a fellow professional when there are good reasons to be worried about risk to a child.
Update to London Child Protection Procedures in the light of the GDPR
The Editorial Board in London Councils has recommended that ‘legal obligation’ and ‘public task’ [as defined in the GDPR] are relied on as the primary basis for processing information to establish whether or not there is a need to safeguard the welfare of a child. This means that, whilst families will be informed when personal data is being shared or processed, their consent will not be required.
This approach is informed by the advice provided by the Office of the Information Commissioner which says: The biggest change is for public authorities, who now need to consider the new ‘public task’ basis first for most of their processing, and have more limited scope to rely on consent or legitimate interests. It is also informed by an amendment to the Data Protection Bill which specifically identifies the protection of an individual from harm and the protection of their well-being as grounds for processing personal data. The changes have been highlighted to Ofsted and the Department of Education.
Golden Rules for Information Sharing
Some professionals worry about their responsibility to keep information private under the Data Protection Act 1998 – but there are simple ways to make sure you share information appropriately:
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.
Guidance on Information Sharing
Further details and guidance on information sharing can be found in the document Information Sharing Advice for Practitioners: providing safeguarding services to children and young people, HM Government, March 2015.
A number of Government departments, including the Department for Education (DfE), published a letter in March 2015 addressed to Local Authority Chief Executives which set out the commitment to sharing information for the protection of children.