Consent to Information Sharing
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This process is always required when a new referral is being managed, and may be required even though the child is already receiving a service from Children Services, because consent to information sharing was not previously obtained, or not obtained for this purpose, or was some time ago.
This should be read in conjunction with:
- Childcare Policy, Strategy and Principles;
- Confidentiality Policy and Principles;
- Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures Manual, Information Sharing and Confidentiality;
- Information Sharing - Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (March 2015);
- Hertfordshire Family Safeguarding Services: Guide to Information Sharing.
If you judge a child to be competent to give consent, then their consent or refusal to consent is the one to consider even if a parent or carer disagrees.
AMENDMENTIn March 2022, a link in Section 2, Obtaining Informed Written Consent was updated.
1. General Principles
An assessment of a child's needs under Section 47 or Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 will require information from partner agencies.
This guidance only applies where seeking consent will not:
- Place a child at increased risk of significant harm; or
- Place an adult at risk of serious harm; or
- Prejudice the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime; or
- Lead to unjustified delay in making enquiries about allegations of significant harm to a child or serious harm to an adult;
- Contradict the wishes of a young person that HCC considers Gillick Competent to give or refuse consent (seeking legal advice as appropriate).
If the social worker judges the child to be Gillick Competent and therefore competent to give consent, his/her consent or refusal to consent is the one to consider even if his/her parent or carer disagrees.
In all other instances, and at the earliest opportunity, you will obtain written consent to share information.
Sharing information across Children's Services is not a breach of the Data Protection Act or the Haringey Judgement. The information being shared should be the information necessary for the purpose for which it is being shared and only shared with the person or people who need to know.
2. Obtaining Informed Written Consent
Whilst written consent is preferable as there can be no dispute at a later date as to whether or not consent was given this is not always available especially at the very beginning of CS involvement.
It is essential that whether consent is written or verbal it must be informed. Informed consent means that the person giving consent needs to understand why information needs to be shared, who will see their information, the purpose to which it will be put and the implications of sharing that information.
See also: CS0442F1 Consent Form.
3. Obtaining Consents
3.1 Parental Consent
If a contact or a referral is received that meets the team's threshold and it is not clear that consent (written or verbal) has been obtained from the parents, then the team accepting the contact / referral will call the parents and get informed consent.
3.2 Third Party Verbal Consent
The responsible worker will ensure that if a contact/referral is made by a professional then s/he will ask if s/he has consent by the parents to share the information and verify whether it is verbal or written. If the consent is written s/he will ask for a copy and record this in a case note. If it is verbal consent this will be recorded on a case note with as much information as possible for example who the consent was given to, when and for what purpose.
3.3 Anonymous Referrals
The responsible worker will contact the parents, asked if they are aware a referral has been made to Children's Services and informed that it would assist Children's Services to undertake their duties if they (parents) would consent to information sharing between agencies i.e. GP, Education, Police and Probation.
3.4 Only One Parent Consents
If one parent with parental responsibility consents and the other refuses than a professional judgment needs to be made about whether it is in the child's best interests that information is requested from an agency. In these circumstances there would be no issue with seeking information about the parent who has consented or the child but the issue would arise in respect of information relating to the parent who has not consented.
The responsible worker will inform the agency that you are asking for information that Children Services does not have consent from one parent and why CS wants the information. The agency would need to apply the Data Protection Act information sharing principals and Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures Manual, Information Sharing and Confidentiality Guidance when deciding whether or not to share information.
Whatever form of consent you have and from whom it is important that will be clearly and fully recorded on the child's LCS file. The completed CS0442F1 Consent Form should be uploaded onto Live Link and held in Essential Information Folder in the Child's file and a case note recorded indicating consent has been obtained or not, the reason. It should also state which agencies we have consent to contact and which have been refused, and if there is a difference between parents.
5. Consent Forms
See also: CS0442F1 Consent Form.