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 adults.
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.
Principles of information sharing
Adults have a general right to independence, choice and self-determination including control over information about themselves. In the context of adult safeguarding these rights can be overridden in certain circumstances.
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.
The General Data Protection Regulation enables the lawful sharing of information.
There should be a local agreement or protocol in place setting out the processes and principles for sharing information between organisations.
An individual employee cannot give a personal assurance of confidentiality.
Frontline staff and volunteers should always report safeguarding concerns in line with their organisation’s policy – this is usually to their line manager in the first instance except in emergency situations.
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.
Organisational policies should have clear routes for escalation where a member of staff feels a manager has not responded appropriately to a safeguarding concern.
All organisations must have a whistleblowing policy.
The management interests of an organisation should not override the need to share information to safeguard adults at risk of abuse.
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 when to raise a concern with the local authority adult social services.
The six safeguarding principles should underpin all safeguarding practice, including information-sharing.