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Safeguarding policy

8. Confidentiality, Information Sharing and Consent

  1. 8. Confidentiality, Information Sharing and Consent

    1. 8.1. Personal information held by professionals and agencies is subject to a legal duty of confidentiality. Information would normally only be disclosed to third parties, including other organisations, with the consent of the subject of the information. In most cases you will ask for and receive their consent to share. However, in some situations, there may be times when it is necessary to disclose information without the subject's consent. If staff are unsure about what action to take they should discuss with a DSO.
    2. 8.2. You cannot promise someone that you will keep their situation totally confidential. You should always make them aware at the earliest opportunity that you may need to share information with others in order to safeguard and support them. You should always seek their consent to share information, but there will be some limited circumstances where this is not possible or not appropriate. However, consent may not be needed for a referral, for example if the person lacks mental capacity.
    3. 8.3. You should make every effort to maintain confidentiality for all concerned in an incident by sharing information appropriately and only on a "need to know" basis. Do not discuss allegations or concerns inappropriately as this could damage the individual, their family and any resulting investigation.
    4. 8.4. Confidential information should always be stored securely with access limited to the Prevention & Early Help Manager, the Designated Safeguarding Officer, the DSL or OSL, in line with data protection laws e.g. paper records in a lockable drawer, electronic data in a secure folder and/or password protected. If sending emails in relation to a safeguarding issue, these should only be sent to a Designated Safeguarding officer, the DSL or OSL and emails should be marked confidential without personal details in the subject line.
    5. 8.5. Sharing information appropriately with other agencies protects people and prevents harm. Information sharing is key to delivering better, more efficient public services that are coordinated around the needs of the individual. It is vital to enable early intervention and prevention work, for safeguarding and promoting wellbeing and for wider public protection, to improve outcomes for all.
    6. 8.6. Knowing when and how to share information is not always easy but it is important to get it right. People need to be confident that their personal information is kept safe and secure and that their individual privacy is considered and safeguarded. It is essential to share information appropriately and confidently.
    7. 8.7. You must be aware of and adhere to information sharing protocols and data protection regulations, always recording who information has been shared with and on what basis.
    8. 8.8. Deciding 'Who needs to know' and 'What needs to be known' should be done on a case-by-case basis in line with agency policies and national legislation.
      1. Before you share information, ask yourself the following questions:
        • do I have the person's permission to disclose personal information?
      2. If not:
        • do I have the legal power to disclose this information?
      • is there a duty to protect the wider public interest, are other people at risk?
      • am I proposing to share information with due regard to common and statute law?
      • where a child is experiencing abuse or harm caused by their parent / carer (e.g. fabricated or induced illness), the parent's consent should not be sought.
      • preventing serious harm; including through prevention, detention and prosecution of a serious crimeo
      • providing urgent medical treatment
      • implementing specific actions required by the Care Act 2014.
    9. If a child over 16 or an adult lacks capacity to consent to sharing information, then any information disclosed must comply with the Mental Capacity Act and Data Protection Act 2018.
    10. Sharing information that may be in the public interest includes:
      • when there is reasonable cause to believe someone is suffering, or is at risk of suffering serious harm
      • to prevent the person from harming someone else.
      • to promote the wellbeing of the person
      • detecting crime
      • apprehending offenders
      • maintaining public safety.
    11. 8.9. 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.
    12. There are seven golden rules for information sharing
      Data Sharing LawRemember that the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR),Data Protection Act 1998 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
      Be open and honestBe 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 adviceIf you are in any doubt, seek advice from the Designated Safeguarding Officer, the Operational Safeguarding Lead or the Information Governance Lead and Data Protection Officer, without disclosing the identity of the person if possible.
      Share with consentWhere 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. Seek advice if you are not sure.
      Consider safety and well-beingBase your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and wellbeing of the person and others who may be affected by their actions.
      Necessary, proportionateEnsure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those who need to have it, is accurate and up to date, is shared in a timely fashion and is shared securely.
      Keep a record Keep accurate records of your concerns, 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.
    13. 8.10. Enquiries from those involved in an incident or from their families or carers should be dealt with by the case officer or their line manager. Always be cautious about sharing information with family members where this may put other relatives at risk. You may need consent to share even within families.
    14. 8.11. Where councillors refer cases to officers, they should seek the person's consent, if possible in writing. Officers cannot share information with councillors without the consent of the person involved.
    15. 8.12. The Council does not disclose details about individuals or incidents to the public or to the media. Such enquiries should be directed to the Communications Team.
    16. 8.13. Enquiries from the general public regarding this policy or any specific incident should be referred to the Designated Safeguarding Officer Lead.
Last modified on 14 December 2023

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