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Practitioner & Volunteers

Information Sharing

Myth-busting guide to Information sharing

Sharing information enables practitioners and organisations to identify and provide appropriate services that safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Below are common myths that may hinder effective information sharing:

The Data Protection Act 1998 is a barrier to sharing information

No - the Data Protection Act 1998 does not prohibit the collection and sharing of personal information, but rather provides a framework to ensure that personal information about a living individual is shared appropriately.

Consent is always needed to share personal information

No - you do not necessarily need the consent of the information subject to share their personal information. Where possible, you should seek consent from an individual, and should be clear about why and with whom information will be shared. In situations where there are concerns that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm, information may be shared without consent.

Personal information collected by one organisation cannot be disclosed to another organisation

No - this is not the case, unless the information is to be used for a purpose incompatible with the purpose that it was originally collected for. In the case of a child at risk of significant harm, it is difficult to foresee circumstances where sharing personal information with other practitioners would be incompatible with the purpose for which it was originally collected.

The common law duty of confidence and the Human Rights Act 1998 prevent the sharing of personal information

No - this is not the case, practitioners need to balance the common law duty of confidence and the rights within the Human Rights Act 1998 against the effect on individuals or others of not sharing the information.

IT Systems are often a barrier to effective information sharing

No – co-judgment is the most essential aspect of multi-agency work, which could be put at risk if organisations rely too heavily on IT systems. Evidence from the Munro review is clear that IT systems will not be fully effective unless individuals from organisations operate around meeting the needs of the individual child.

(From Working Together 2018 consultation document)