Sharing information about children, young people and their
The Department for Education has issued Safeguarding
information sharing advice for practitioners providing
safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and
Key points about information sharing
Explain to people openly and honestly what information you will
share, with whom and why. The only time that you should not do this
is, if letting them know, will leave someone at risk of significant
You should respect the wishes of family members if they do not
want information shared unless someone will be placed at risk of
significant harm if you don’t share the information.
If in doubt speak to your manager or have a general discussion
with children’s services, by which we mean, one where you do not
necessarily share the name of the family.
Make sure that the information that you are sharing is accurate,
up to date, necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it
and only shared with those who need to know it. The information
should also be shared securely. Having decided to share information
you need not tell everyone everything.
You should always record the reason for your decision; whether
you shared the information or not.
The importance of proportionality
The word proportionality is rather jargonistic but it explains a
very helpful concept. It accepts that the decision about sharing
information is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision but depends upon
a number of factors.
- How at risk is the young
- Is the risk imminent?
- How much safer will the young person be if
the information is shared?
- Will the relationship between
professionals and the family be so damaged by sharing information
against their wishes that it may be better to not
- Does the information need to be shared
now? Could it wait until the family have changed their mind about
Sometimes you may not be able to answer the questions above. In
this case it is best to contact one professional and share
information with them. Following a discussion you may be clearer
about what to do. If not, contact one further professional.
Consent must be informed which means that the person who has
given consent understands
- what will happen to the
- who will be told what
- who they will then tell
- why people are being told the
Although there is a lot of guidance about sharing information
there is very little about communication; the process by which
information is shared. The following tips, taken from the Common
Core of Skills and Knowledge are very helpful.
- communicate effectively with other
practitioners and professionals by listening and ensuring that you
are being listened to
- appreciate that others may not have the
same understanding of professional terms and may interpret
abbreviations such as acronyms differently
- be able to use clear language to
communicate information unambiguously to others
- listen carefully to what is said and check
- know that inference or interpretation can
result in a difference between what is said and what is