Information Sharing & Consent
Before you start an assessment you need to discuss with, and ensure that, the parents, carers, and young person have provided consent to proceed with the early help assessment. You must have consent to share information. A young person aged 16 or over, or a child under 16 who have the capacity to understand and make their own decisions may give or refuse consent. You should follow guidelines and or your local procedures to establish competency in relation to having capacity to consent. It is not simply based on age, it is based on a capacity to understand any consequences of consent or non-consent in the particular circumstances and make specific decisions at the time it needs to be made. This can be with or without the parent or carers consent.
What if I don’t get consent?
You cannot proceed with the early help assessment, even if you have identified additional needs. You must respect the wishes of the parent’s, carers or young person. Just because you haven’t got consent doesn’t mean you don’t do anything. Identify what work can be initiated whilst you continue to discuss with them the early help process.
Can I ever share information without consent?
You can share information without consent in the following circumstances:
- When a child is believed to be at risk of significant harm
- When the public interest in safeguarding the child’s welfare overrides the need to keep the information confidential.
- For the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime
- When instructed to do so by a court
- When there is a legal obligation
- When it is in the parent, carer or young person’s vital interest to do so.Hints & tips
- By communicating in an open, honest and non-judgmental way ,consent is rarely refused.
- Explain how and why you need the information
- Data Protection Act is not a barrier to information sharing
- Record your decisions to share information and why in you need to in your case notes/records.
- Revisit consent at appropriate times
7 Golden Rules of Information Sharing
- Remember that the Data Protection Act is not a barrier to sharing information but provides a framework to ensure that personal information about living persons is shared appropriately.
- Be open and honest 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 if you are in any doubt, without disclosing the identity of the person where possible.
- Share with consent where appropriate and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent. You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, lack of consent can be overridden in the public interest. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case.
- Consider safety and wellbeing: base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and wellbeing of the person and others who may be affected by their actions.
- Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure: ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose in which you are sharing it. Ensure it is shared only with those people who need to have it. It is accurate and up-to date, and is shared securely and in a timely fashion.
- Keep a record of your decision and 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 why.