What if a person does not want you to share their information? - Adult safeguarding: sharing information

Frontline workers and volunteers should always share safeguarding concerns in line with their organisation’s policy, usually with their line manager or safeguarding lead in the first instance, except in emergency situations. As long as it does not increase the risk to the individual, the member of staff should explain to them that it is their duty to share their concern with their manager. The safeguarding principle of proportionality should underpin decisions about sharing information without consent, and decisions should be on a case-by-case basis.

Individuals may not give their consent to the sharing of safeguarding information for a number of reasons. For example, they may be frightened of reprisals, they may fear losing control, they may not trust social services or other partners or they may fear that their relationship with the abuser will be damaged. Reassurance and appropriate support along with gentle persuasion may help to change their view on whether it is best to share information.

If a person refuses intervention to support them with a safeguarding concern, or requests that information about them is not shared with other safeguarding partners, their wishes should be respected. However, there are a number of circumstances where the practitioner can reasonably override such a decision, including:

If none of the above apply and the decision is not to share safeguarding information with other safeguarding partners, or not to intervene to safeguard the person:

If it is necessary to share information outside the organisation:

If the person cannot be persuaded to give their consent then, unless it is considered dangerous to do so, it should be explained to them that the information will be shared without consent. The reasons should be given and recorded.

If it is not clear that information should be shared outside the organisation, a conversation can be had with safeguarding partners in the police or local authority without disclosing the identity of the person in the first instance. They can then advise on whether full disclosure is necessary without the consent of the person concerned.

It is very important that the risk of sharing information is also considered. In some cases, such as domestic violence or hate crime, it is possible that sharing information could increase the risk to the individual. Safeguarding partners need to work jointly to provide advice, support and protection to the individual in order to minimise the possibility of worsening the relationship or triggering retribution from the abuser.

Domestic abuse cases should be assessed following the CAADA-DASH risk assessment and referred to a multi-agency risk assessment conference where appropriate. Cases of domestic abuse should also be referred to local specialist domestic abuse services.

Practice example

In Birmingham, a partnership approach to tackling antisocial behaviour has been developed by the Safer Birmingham Partnership. The Safer Estates Agreement is used by all social landlords in Birmingham to enable the sharing of information.


Department of Health: Confidentiality and information sharing for direct care; guidance for health and care professionals

24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline 0808 2000 247 Run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge

Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA)

MARAC referral form

ADASS and LGA Making effective use of data and information to improve safety and quality in adult safeguarding

Home Office Information sharing for community safety: guidance and practice advice

SCIE Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding examines other initiatives that may help to prevent abuse