Why is information sharing guidance important? Because child protection and safeguarding involve sensitive information that directly affects the welfare of children and young people.
To keep these children safe, information needs to be shared appropriately so that decisions can be made to protect them. Clear boundaries around information sharing are important to maintain confidentiality where appropriate and to ensure that only those who need the information are made aware of it.
What information to share
Whenever a sports club, activity or organisation receives information that raises concerns about a child or children, decisions need to be made about sharing this safeguarding information. This could include:
- concerns about a child received within or outside the sport
- concerns about a person in a position of trust, such as a coach – this could include information on a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check
- concerns about a member of a sports club or activity
- concerns about a sports environment, such as an event location, hosting or overnight stay arrangements
Who to share information with
Within case management, it is important to consider who you should be sharing information with. This may include:
- Statutory organisations – the Police and/or Children’s Services must be informed about child protection concerns; Designated Officers (LADOs) should be consulted where there are concerns about someone in a position of trust
- Disclosure & Barring Service – they must be informed of any concerns about someone in regulated activity who is suspended or expelled from the organisation
- Other clubs and other sports organisations – the principles of the seven golden rules (see below) need to inform decisions about sharing information with other organisations to enable them to safeguard children in their care who may be at risk of harm
- Individuals within the organisation – decisions about sharing information with individuals also needs to be based on the seven golden rules guidance to determine who needs to know what information in order to keep children safe
Seven golden rules for information sharing
When sharing information with any organisation we need to consider the following aspects below as outlined by Government Guidance. Information sharing advice for safeguarding practitioners describes key principles for deciding what to share, the seven golden rules for information sharing are:
- Remember that the Data Protection Act and GDPR legislation are not a barrier to sharing information - the welfare of the child is the paramount concern. As long as the information can be justified and is in accordance with this information sharing guidance, it should be shared.
- Be open and honest – where appropriate it is important to keep all parties informed of information sharing plans, processes and boundaries.
- Seek advice - from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
- Share with consent where appropriate – consent of the individual about the information concerned, should be sought before sharing. However, consent may not be appropriate if informing the individual would place a child at risk (see the 1st golden rule) or you can dispense with consent if sharing information is in the best interests of the child.
- Consider safety and well-being – include considerations of support needs for all involved, including those about whom information is being shared, any risks of sharing the information and how these would be managed.
- Keep a record – recording is important at every stage – including recording how and why decisions were made about information sharing. All records should be signed and dated.
- Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure – the key one!
- Necessary – is the information necessary to keeping the child or children safe
- Proportionate – how much information needs to be shared? It may not be appropriate to share all information. Seek advice to make decisions about what information needs to be shared to ensure children are safeguarded
- Relevant – only include information that is relevant to the situation and required to make decisions or to take action to keep children safe. Only share information with relevant people, confidentiality of personal and case information should be upheld
- Accurate – include factual information, if any opinions are stated, these should be evidence based. Include times and dates of information and accurate information about individuals concerned
- Timely – share information at the earliest opportunity – avoid delay! However, don’t rush into sharing information without the appropriate decision-making processes
- Secure – how is information shared, stored and for how long?