Last reviewed in Feb 2020
Next review Feb 2022
Also see the government guidance: Information sharing: advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services (July 2018)
Sharing information is vital for early intervention to ensure that children with additional needs receive the services they require. It is also essential to protect children from suffering Significant Harm.
There is a positive duty under the Human Rights Act 1998 to protect life (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and to protect others from inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights). All public authorities must ensure that everything they do promotes these rights and, in circumstances where a child has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, this includes the sharing of information with others so that the child's human rights can be protected.
Practitioners are sometimes uncertain about when they can share information lawfully. It is important therefore that they:
Staff in adults' services are aware that problems faced by those with responsibilities as parents are often likely to affect children and other family members. However this information is not always shared and opportunities to put preventative support in place for the children and the family are missed. Where an adult receiving services is a parent or carer, sharing information with colleagues in children's services could ensure that any additional support required for their children can be provided early.
Where a practitioner has concerns that a child may be at risk of Significant Harm, it may be possible to justify sharing information without consent; the circumstances in which this can happen are set out in the next section of this chapter.