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Safeguarding adults: sharing information

This guide is part of a range of products to support implementation of the adult safeguarding aspects of the Care Act 2014. Sharing the right information, at the right time, with the right people, is fundamental to good practice in safeguarding adults but has been highlighted as a difficult area of practice.

Frontline staff and volunteers should always report safeguarding concerns in line with their organisation’s policy. Policies should be clear about how confidential information should be shared between departments in the same organisation. Effectiveness should be monitored and any internal communication problems resolved.

This guide focuses on the sharing of sensitive or personal information between the local authority and its safeguarding partners (including GPs and health, the police, service providers, housing, regulators and the Office of the Public Guardian) for safeguarding purposes. This may include information about individuals who are at risk of abuse or neglect, service providers or those who may pose a risk to others. It aims to enable partners to share information appropriately and lawfully in order to improve the speed and quality of safeguarding responses.

The Care Act emphasises the need to empower people, to balance choice and control for individuals against preventing harm and reducing risk, and to respond proportionately to safeguarding concerns. The Act deals with the role of the safeguarding adults board (SAB) in sharing strategic information to improve local safeguarding practice. Section 45 ‘the supply of information’ covers the responsibility of others to comply with any request for information from the safeguarding adults board for the purposes of progressing an enquiry.

Sharing information between organisations as part of day-to-day safeguarding practice is not covered in the Care Act because it is already covered in the common law duty of confidentiality, the Data Protection Act 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Human Rights Act and the Crime and Disorder Act. The Mental Capacity Act is also relevant as all those coming into contact with adults with care and support needs should be able to assess whether someone has the mental capacity to make a decision concerning risk, safety or sharing information. This guide summarises key parts of these laws to help increase understanding of the basic principles in relation to safeguarding practice and, in particular, the sharing of safeguarding information.

This guide will be useful to frontline workers and managers from a range of sectors who work with people with care and support needs.