Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) Practice Guidance 4 - Information sharing

This guidance aims to clarify the circumstances in which information can be shared with another agency, the considerations that need to be taken into account to ensure sharing information with another agency is appropriate, and the importance of involving children, young people and families.

11. Special Category and criminal offence data (including allegations)

Information that you are considering sharing will often be “special category data” and this information may be especially relevant to understanding the situation (see glossary). Special category data is data that is sensitive and personal (for example, information concerning health, religion, ethnic origin, sex life, or sexual orientation). Data protection law provides greater protection for this information because of its sensitive nature. For example, to share special category data for the performance of a public interest task you would also need to demonstrate that you could meet one of the specific conditions in Article 9 of the UK GDPR e.g. that it was necessary for reasons of substantial public interest and in accordance with law.

There are also greater protections for information relating to criminal convictions and offences (see glossary). In addition to identifying an Article 6 lawful basis for processing, you can only process criminal offence data if the processing is either:

You should be assured that if you have concerns about a child or young person’s physical, mental or emotional well-being, data protection legislation does not present a barrier to sharing information.

This is a complex area and organisations should have protocols in place, including an appropriate policy document, to support practitioners to ensure that if they process special category and criminal offence data, that they do so lawfully. You should be able to recognise when you are sharing special category data or criminal offence data, understand that it needs particular protection and carries a higher risk and ensure that you are familiar with and sharing in accordance with relevant organisational data sharing agreements, protocols and policies. You should seek advice if in any doubt.

Further guidance can be found on the ICO website:



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