When speaking to a child or an adult in circumstances where there are concerns about Significant Harm to a Child or an Adult, full confidentiality cannot be promised as it may be necessary to share the information in order to protect others as well as the person subject to the concerns.
It is important that it is explained to children, families and other adults, openly and honestly, what and how information will, or could be shared and why, and seek their agreement and consent.
For example, information may be needed for a Child Protection Enquiry by Children's Social Care Services, and/or for a criminal investigation by the Police or for an adult investigation by Adult Social Care Services and/or in some circumstances it may be needed for action in the Courts or for insurance reasons.
The Safeguarding Co-ordinator will record full details of all decisions regarding information sharing giving reasons in the log of actions in the Safeguarding Case File.
Any queries about information sharing must be directed to the Safeguarding Co-ordinator.
The Data Protection Act 1998 sets out clearly how personal information should be managed. HM Government provides guidance about information sharing (see Information Sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers, March 2015).
The general principle is that information will only be shared with the consent of the subject of the information.
The exception to this is where to seek consent would:
- Place the child or others at increased risk of Significant Harm; or
- Place an adult of serious harm; or
- Undermine the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime (i.e. any crime which causes or is likely to cause Significant Harm to a child or serious harm to an adult).
This may be the case where making a referral to Children's Social Care Services, Adult Social Care Services or the Police.
The safety and welfare of a child or an adult must be the primary consideration when making decisions on whether to share information about the child or adult. Where there is concern that the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, the child's safety and welfare must be the overriding consideration. Similarly where there are concerns about the safety of an adult their welfare takes precedence and information must be shared where a crime is suspected.
Where information is shared, those doing so must ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, necessary for the purpose for which they are sharing it, shared only with those people who need to see it, and shared securely.
Research and a number of Child Death Reviews over the years have demonstrated that adults have failed to share information with one another and with agencies where there have been concerns about a child and as a consequence a child has suffered harm. Recent enquiries into the deaths of adults have demonstrated the same failings.
Ask the following questions:
- Does the person need to know the information?
- Does the person need to know all the information?
- For what purpose does the person need to know the information?
For the purpose of safeguarding children and adults, information may be shared with the following people; all of whom are required to keep information confidential within the boundaries of inter agency professional confidentiality:
- The Safeguarding Representative;
- The Safeguarding Co-ordinator;
- A member of the Safeguarding Commission;
- The Bishop or Congregation Leader;
- The Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service professional staff;
- Children's Social Care Services professional staff;
- Adult Social Care Services professional staff;
- The Police;
- The NSPCC;
- The Charities Commission.
Information may also legitimately be shared with the Diocesan or Congregational Insurers where appropriate and also with the Charity Commission to comply with the Serious Incident Reporting requirements.