Appropriate sharing of relevant information is a vital part of the early intervention approach that is at the heart of GIRFEC. Sharing the right information at the right time improves outcomes for children, young people and their families and can help prevent concerns growing into problems.
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act provides that information should be shared between services and the Named Person if it is likely to be relevant to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child. Information to be shared should be discussed with child and family unless there is a specific reason not to i.e. a child protection concern.
Current data protection principles and privacy laws already permit information sharing when it is necessary to prevent or address a risk to wellbeing. These laws apply to all existing information management and data processing by public bodies and those who provide services on their behalf.
Rules for sharing information
By following these ‘golden rules’ of information sharing, people working with children, young people, families and other professionals can ensure that children and young people have the best outcomes possible:
- Adhere to the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998
- Share information that is necessary, relevant and proportionate
- Record why information has been requested or shared
- Make the child, young person or family aware of why information is being shared*
*Unless there are child protection concerns.
Preventing early concerns growing into serious problems
Every inquiry into a child’s death in the UK over the last 40 years has found that effective sharing of information within and between agencies is fundamental to improving the protection of children and young people. This was confirmed by the 2001 report, ‘It’s everyone’s job to make sure I’m alright’.
The various inquiries all showed that no single service had a full, clear picture about what was going on in the child’s life. In all cases, early indications of a threat to wellbeing had been missed, or hadn’t been responded to at the earliest opportunity.