Key messages - Adult safeguarding: sharing information

  • Adults have a general right to independence, choice and self-determination including control over information about themselves. In the context of adult safeguarding these rights can be overridden in certain circumstances.
  • Emergency or life-threatening situations may warrant the sharing of relevant information with the relevant emergency services without consent.
  • The law does not prevent the sharing of sensitive, personal information within organisations. If the information is confidential, but there is a safeguarding concern, sharing it may be justified.
  • The law does not prevent the sharing of sensitive, personal information between organisations where the public interest served outweighs the public interest served by protecting confidentiality – for example, where a serious crime may be prevented.
  • The Data Protection Act enables the lawful sharing of information.
  • There should be a local agreement or protocol in place setting out the processes and principles for sharing information between organisations.
  • An individual employee cannot give a personal assurance of confidentiality.
  • Frontline staff and volunteers should always report safeguarding concerns in line with their organisation’s policy – this is usually to their line manager in the first instance except in emergency situations.
  • It is good practice to try to gain the person’s consent to share information.
  • As long as it does not increase risk, practitioners should inform the person if they need to share their information without consent.
  • Organisational policies should have clear routes for escalation where a member of staff feels a manager has not responded appropriately to a safeguarding concern.
  • All organisations must have a whistleblowing policy.
  • The management interests of an organisation should not override the need to share information to safeguard adults at risk of abuse.
  • All staff, in all partner agencies, should understand the importance of sharing safeguarding information and the potential risks of not sharing it.
  • All staff should understand when to raise a concern with the local authority adult social services.
  • The six safeguarding principles should underpin all safeguarding practice, including information-sharing.

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Available downloads:

  • Care Act 2014: Adult safeguarding: sharing information