National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Part 1: The context for child protection 27 Version 1.0 September 2021 Information Sharing: Inter-Agency Principles 1.128 Sharing relevant information is an essential part of protecting children from harm. Practitioners and managers in statutory services and the voluntary sector should all understand when and how they may share information. Practitioners must be supported and guided in working within and applying the law through organisational procedures and supervisory processes. Within agencies, data controllers and information governance/ data protection leads should ensure that the systems and procedures for which they share accountability provide an effective framework for lawful, fair and transparent information sharing. Where appropriate, data sharing agreements must be in place. 1.129 Where there is a child protection concern, relevant information should be shared with police or social work without delay, provided it is necessary, proportionate and lawful to do so. The lawful basis for sharing information should be identified and recorded. A summary of what constitutes a lawful basis, and what you need to consider in trying to identify the appropriate lawful bases for sharing can be found at the end of this section. Agency data protection leads should be able to advise where doubt about the appropriate lawful basis exists. Professional judgement 1.130 It is the role of designated police, social work and health staff to consider whether there may be a risk of significant harm, and if so, to progress necessary action through child protection procedures. This will include careful consideration and a plan for how to communicate with the child and family, including where there is no further action required. 1.131 Practitioners with child protection concerns may share relevant information in order to: • clarify if there is a risk of harm to a child • clarify the level of risk of harm to a child • safeguard a child at risk of harm • clarify if a child is being harmed • clarify the level of harm a child is experiencing • safeguard a child who is being harmed 1.132 Professional judgement must always be applied to the available evidence about each specific emerging concern, and about what is relevant, proportionate, and necessary to share. The concern must be placed in the context of available observed and recorded information about the particular child, their needs and circumstances. Why relying on ‘consent’ as the basis to share information may not be appropriate 1.133 UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets a high standard for consent and, in most cases where there are child protection concerns, consent is unlikely to be an appropriate lawful basis to rely upon as it requires that individuals have real choice and control about the processing of their personal data. Relying on ‘consent’ as the lawful basis is not appropriate if, for example, refusal to give consent would prejudice a criminal investigation or might lead to serious harm to the child. Furthermore, due to the power imbalance between a child or families and the authorities, it would be difficult to demonstrate that consent was freely given. In matters of child protection, it is therefore likely that reliance on consent would be the exception and not the rule.