April 24, 2024

Latest DfE Guidance - Understanding the Importance of Information Sharing in Safeguarding

The Department for Education have released a document titled "Information Sharing Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services for children, young people, parents and carers". This non-statutory advice, intended to replace the 2018 guidance, underscores the critical role of information sharing in the safeguarding of children.

This document serves as a robust reference point for practitioners across various sectors including social care, education, health, justice, and the voluntary sector, offering clarity on the legal frameworks that support the sharing of information necessary to protect children from abuse and neglect.


The document details the legal and practical aspects of sharing information to safeguard children. It emphasizes that while data protection laws are often perceived as a barrier, they actually provide a structured framework to enable necessary information sharing. Practitioners are guided on how to navigate these laws effectively, ensuring that children's safety and welfare are prioritized at all times. The advice is contextualized within broader statutory guidelines and tailored to the specific needs of different practitioners, making it a crucial tool for those involved in child protection.

The 7 Golden Rules for Sharing Information

Rule 1: Protecting Children's Safety Over Privacy

Children's safety must take precedence over privacy concerns. Information should be shared legally and responsibly when it is necessary to protect a child from harm.

Rule 2: Engage and Explain

Whenever possible and safe, practitioners should engage with the child and/or their carers to explain the intentions and necessity of sharing their information.

Rule 3: Consent Not Always Required

Consent is not needed for sharing personal information in situations where a child's safety is at risk. Practitioners should have a lawful basis for information sharing under data protection laws.

Rule 4: Seek Advice When in Doubt

Practitioners should promptly seek advice when uncertain about the legalities of sharing information, ensuring that concerns about possible criticism do not hinder the safeguarding of a child.

Rule 5: Protect Identities

When sharing information, care must be taken to protect the identities of those involved to prevent further harm.

Rule 6: Share Relevant and Accurate Information

Information shared should be relevant, necessary, and limited to what is needed for the recipient to perform their safeguarding duties effectively.

Rule 7: Document and Justify Decisions

All decisions about sharing information should be well-documented and justified, whether information is shared or not. This is crucial for accountability and transparency.

This guidance from the Department for Education is a significant resource for ensuring the safety and well-being of children across the UK, providing clear directives to overcome the challenges posed by data protection concerns in safeguarding contexts.

Article written by Online SCR
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