People often have difficulty in assessing whether they can share information with other individuals and organisations. It can feel as if this conflicts with confidentiality policies and with legislation such as the Data Protection and Human Rights Acts. However, if we are to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, we need to pass on concerns about children and their parents/carers. The following key points should help in establishing good practice in information sharing:
- The safety and welfare of the child must be the primary consideration in deciding whether or not to share information, and always overrides confidentiality.
- Where possible, speak with the child and/or family about your concerns, what information you will share and with whom. The exception to this is where you believe to do so would put the child or an adult at risk of harm; where you suspect sexual abuse; where you suspect someone of making the child ill, or fabricating illness; or, where sharing your concerns may undermine investigation, detection or prosecution of a serious crime such as child abuse.
- You should try to respect the wishes of children and families who do not give consent to share confidential information however, you may judge that there are sufficient concerns regarding the likelihood of harm to a child to override the lack of consent.
- Seek advice if you are in doubt – especially when you are concerned about risk of harm to a child or anyone else.
- The information you share should be accurate, up-to-date, only what is necessary for the purpose, shared only with those who need to know it and shared securely (in a way that ensures it cannot be viewed by the wrong person).
- You should always make a record of your decision as soon as possible, and the reasons for it, whether you decide to share information or not. This should be signed, dated and stored in a secure place
Adapted from “Information Sharing: Pocket Guide” (DfES, 2008)
Further resources on Information Sharing at:
Allegations oc Child Abuse against staff and Volunteers
It is important to remember that those who abuse children come from all walks of life and all professions. Over the years doctors, teachers, nurses, social workers, police officers, faith leaders, lawyers, babysitters, school caretakers and voluntary staff etc. have been convicted of child abuse. In many cases, child abusers have taken jobs which involve them in working with children or vulnerable parents to enable them to access victims. Those who abuse children are usually known to, and trusted by, the child and/or family.
It is also occasionally the case that those who have never harmed/abused a child can be accused of child abuse. This may be as a result of a child misinterpreting something, or may be as a result of the child having previous experiences of abuse (or both).
Allegations of abuse against staff and volunteers must NEVER GO UNREPORTED. It is important to remember that it is rare for children to make false allegations. If you work for an organisation that belongs to the LSCB, all allegations of abuse must be reported to the Senior Manager within your Organisation (SMO) immediately as it is their role to deal with all concerns and allegations made against childcare professionals, volunteers and foster carers. If you do not have an SMO within your agency you should contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). If you feel your concern requires an immediate response because a child is at risk of significant harm please contact Children's Social Care or the Police. The procedures for dealing with allegations and LADO’s contact details for your area can be found on your Local Safeguarding Children Board website or via your Customer Service Centre.
If you are a member of the public who is concerned that anyone may be abusing children, including employees or volunteers in services known to you, you should contact Children’s Social Care or the Police.
Government Legislation and Policy
The Children Act 1989 outlines the duties and responsibilities of local authorities in respect of intervening when children are suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm because of abuse or neglect.
The Children Act 2004 provides the legal underpinning for the delivery of local arrangements for those who have a statutory duty to work together, and share information, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Lead officers from the agencies covered by this duty comprise the Local Safeguarding Children Board. The Board ensures that agencies work together effectively by developing procedures, delivering multi-agency training and by holding each other to account.
Following the death of Baby Peter, Lord Laming's report, "The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report" was published in March 2009 and in May the Government responded to the 58 recommendations outlined in the report, including a revision of the Working Together 2006 guidance.
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013 sets out how individuals and organisations should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The guidance has been updated since the previous versions which were published in 2006 and 2010. The new version reflects developments in legislation, policy and practice.
Further information on Government legislation and policy can be obtained at the following link:
What You Can Do to Promote Good Practice
Child Protection Policy and Procedures
If your agency already has a child protection policy and/or procedures, become familiar with this and check that it is current and reflects recent changes in legislation and policy. If your organisation does not have a policy, or it is out of date, ask for an up-to-date one to be produced. You can get assistance with this by contacting your Local Safeguarding Children Board or the NSPCC, or by visiting their websites.
Guidelines for Good Practice
Think about working with colleagues to draw up a set of guidelines, if you haven't already got these. They could include a code of conduct for staff working with children and details of who in your organisation needs child protection training, and of what type.
Training and Development
You can also access further safeguarding and child protection training through your Local Safeguarding Children Board. Details of training are available on the website address below, or they can be contacted by phone.
North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board
Telephone: 01609 535189
City of York Safeguarding Children Board
Telephone: 01904 555650
Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for North Yorkshire
Copntact via: Customer Service Centre: 0845 034 9410
Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for City of York
Telephone: 01904 555695 or 07717 571801