Why is information sharing guidance important? Because child protection and safeguarding adults involves sensitive information that directly affects the welfare of children / young people and adults.
To keep these children / adults safe, information needs to be shared appropriately so that decisions can be made to protect them.
However, clear boundaries around information sharing are important to maintain confidentiality where appropriate and to ensure that only those who need the information are made aware of it.
Sharing the right information, at the right time, with the right people, is fundamental to good practice in safeguarding.
What does the law say about sharing information?
Information-sharing is related to a number of different pieces of legislation:
Local authority responsibilities for sharing information under the Care Act 2014Open
The common law duty of confidentiality
The Human Rights Act 1998
The Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998
Understanding the Mental Capacity Act 2005
What information to share
Whenever a sports organisation receives information that raises concerns about a child / children /adult, decisions need to be made about information sharing. This could include:
concerns about a child / adult received within or outside the sport
concerns about a person in a position of trust, such as a coach – this could include information on a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check
concerns about a member of a sports club
concerns about a sports environment, such as an event location or hosting arrangements
Emergency or life-threatening situations may warrant the sharing of relevant information with the relevant emergency services without consent.
The law does not prevent the sharing of sensitive, personal information within organisations. If the information is confidential, but there is a safeguarding concern, sharing it may be justified.
The law does not prevent the sharing of sensitive, personal information between organisations where the public interest served outweighs the public interest served by protecting confidentiality – for example, where a serious crime may be prevented, or if there is a safeguarding issue.
Information can be shared lawfully within the parameters of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
An individual employee cannot give a personal assurance of confidentiality.
It is good practice to try to gain the person’s consent to share information.
As long as it does not increase risk, practitioners should inform the person if they need to share their information without consent.
All staff, in all partner agencies, should understand the importance of sharing safeguarding information and the potential risks of not sharing it.
All staff should understand who safeguarding applies to and how to report a concern.
Why do we need to share safeguarding information?
Organisations need to share safeguarding information with the right people at the right time to:
prevent death or serious harm
coordinate effective and efficient responses
enable early interventions to prevent the escalation of risk
prevent abuse and harm that may increase the need for care and support
maintain and improve good practice in safeguarding
reveal patterns of abuse that were previously undetected and that could identify others at risk of abuse
identify low-level concerns that may reveal people at risk of abuse
help people to access the right kind of support to reduce risk and promote wellbeing
help identify people who may pose a risk to others and, where possible, work to reduce offending behaviour
reduce organisational risk and protect reputation.
What if a person does not want you to share their information?
If a person refuses intervention to support them with a safeguarding concern, or requests that information about them is not shared with other safeguarding partners, their wishes should be respected. However, there are a number of circumstances where the practitioner can reasonably override such a decision, including:
the person lacks the mental capacity to make that decision – this must be properly explored and recorded in line with the Mental Capacity Act
other people are, or may be, at risk, including children
sharing the information could prevent a crime
the alleged abuser has care and support needs and may also be at risk
a serious crime has been committed
staff are implicated
the person has the mental capacity to make that decision but they may be under duress or being coerced
the risk is unreasonably high and meets the criteria for a multi-agency risk assessment conference referral
a court order or other legal authority has requested the information.
If none of the above apply and the decision is not to share safeguarding information with other safeguarding partners, or not to intervene to safeguard the person:
support the person to weigh up the risks and benefits of different options
ensure they are aware of the level of risk and possible outcomes
offer to arrange for them to have an advocate or peer supporter
offer support for them to build confidence and self-esteem if necessary
agree on and record the level of risk the person is taking
record the reasons for not intervening or sharing information
regularly review the situation
try to build trust and use gentle persuasion to enable the person to better protect themselves.
If it is necessary to share information outside the organisation:
explore the reasons for the person’s objections – what are they worried about?
explain the concern and why you think it is important to share the information
tell the person who you would like to share the information with and why
explain the benefits, to them or others, of sharing information – could they access better help and support?
discuss the consequences of not sharing the information – could someone come to harm?
reassure them that the information will not be shared with anyone who does not need to know
reassure them that they are not alone and that support is available to them.
If the person cannot be persuaded to give their consent then, unless it is considered dangerous to do so, it should be explained to them that the information will be shared without consent. The reasons should be given and recorded.
The safeguarding principle of proportionality should underpin decisions about sharing information without consent, and decisions should be on a case-by-case basis.
Key principles for deciding what to share
The Government guidance, Information sharing advice for safeguarding practitioners, describes the ‘Seven Golden Rules’ of information sharing:
Remember that the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018 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 honest with the individual (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 from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
Share with informed consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared. You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is lawful basis to do so, such as where safety may be at risk.
Consider safety and well-being: Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, 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 individuals 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.
Who to share information with
Within case management, it is important to consider who to share information with. This may include
Statutory organisations – the Police and/or Children’s Services must be informed about child protection concerns; Designated Officers (LADOs) should be consulted where there are concerns about someone in a position of trust.
Disclosure & Barring Service – must be informed of any concerns about someone in regulated activity who is suspended or expelled from the organisation.
Other clubs and other sports organisations – the principles of the Seven Golden Rules need to inform decisions about sharing information with other organisations to enable them to safeguard children in their care who may be at risk of harm.
Individuals within the organisation – decisions about sharing information with individuals also needs to be based on the Seven Golden Rules guidance to determine who needs to know what information in order to keep children safe.