Last reviewed 19 September 2023

Organisations and frontline workers who have real concerns that they may fall foul of data protection law if they share information have been reassured that they will not get into trouble if this is done to protect children and young people at risk of serious harm.

This message comes from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) as it published A 10 Step Guide to Sharing Information to Safeguard Children, available on the ICO website.

Given that the ICO’s role is as the regulator of information rights, not of safeguarding practices, it is important to note that this is not an explanation of how to safeguard children and young people, but it does give practical advice on data protection as part of the safeguarding process.

The need to improve data sharing practices has been highlighted in recent serious case reviews in the UK where children have died or been seriously harmed through abuse or neglect. Poor information sharing among organisations and agencies was identified as one of the factors contributing to failures to protect the children.

UK Information Commissioner, John Edwards, said: “Data protection law helps organisations share data when required. Our guide will support senior leaders to put strong policies, systems and training in place, so their staff are encouraged and empowered to share data in an appropriate, safe and lawful way.”

People will not get in trouble with the ICO for trying to prevent or lessen a serious risk or threat to a child’s mental and physical wellbeing, he emphasised.

Free marketing materials and a video have also been produced to support organisations to raise awareness of the benefits of sharing information to protect children and young people from harm. These can be found on the ICO website.