Confidentiality and information sharing
Your organisation will have a confidentiality policy and clear guidance about sharing information - you must refer to these in the first instance.
Some general guidelines about confidentiality with a domestic abuse or sexual violence client are available to you:
- Information should be treated in the utmost confidence and not divulged to anyone outside the organisation without the service user's consent, except where there is risk to another person, there is risk to the service user or there are child protection issues.
- All information should be stored in a secure unit. It is stored as potential evidence should a case be presented at court.
- Clear and explicit boundaries of confidentiality must be stated, including situations where confidentiality may be breached.
- No conversation about an individual should take place with anyone who does not work for the service either as a volunteer or as a paid employee.
- No personal information about an individual should be given to any third party even if the person is a member of their family.
- Confirm arrangements of future contact. Details of a 'safe' telephone number/contact details should be recorded and maintained at all times.
- Information will only be passed to another agency with the consent of the client unless exceptions apply.
There may be circumstances where, for the reasons stated in the first guideline, you are required to breach confidentiality. It is always preferable to do this with this victim's consent. Where consent is not given, you must discuss with your line manager the reasons for disclosure without consent and the grounds upon which this is based.
Derbyshire Partnership Forum (DPF) information sharing protocol
The aim of this protocol is to provide a framework for the partner organisations to establish and regulate working practice. It is recognised that the lawful sharing of information between partner agencies is essential to meet this aim. For a copy of the DPF information sharing protocol please visit the Derbyshire Partnership Forum website.
The following principles should be considered:
- justify the purpose of using confidential information
- only use it when absolutely necessary
- use the minimum that is required
- access should be on a strict need-to-know basis
- everyone must understand his or her responsibilities
- understand and comply with the law
Confidentiality and information sharing for children
Relevant information can and should be shared where it is necessary to ensure the safety of children.
These are some measures that you should take when sharing information.
You should explain to children, young people and families at the outset, openly and honestly, what and how information will, or could be shared and why, and seek their agreement. The exception to this is where to do so would put that child, young person or others at increased risk of significant harm or an adult at risk of serious harm, or if it would undermine the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime including where seeking consent might lead to interference with any potential investigation.
You must always consider the safety and welfare of a child or young person when making decisions on whether to share information about them. Where there is concern that the child may be suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm, the child's safety and welfare must be the overriding consideration.
You should, where possible, respect the wishes of children, young people or families who do not consent to share confidential information. You may still share information, if in your judgment on the facts of the case; there is sufficient need in the public interest to override that lack of consent.
You should seek advice where you are in doubt, especially where your doubt relates to a concern about possible significant harm to a child or serious harm to others.
You should ensure that the information you share is accurate and up-to-date, necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, shared only with those people who need to see it, and shared securely.
You should always record the reasons for your decision, whether it is to share information or not.