14 September 2023

Information Commissioner urges people to share data to protect at-risk children

14 September 2023

Organisations will not be punished by the UK’s data protection regulator for sharing information to protect young people at risk of harm, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said.

The data protection watchdog has published new guidance aimed at firms and frontline workers who it says may be scared to share information for fear of breaching data protection laws.

The ICO said it was looking to reassure people working with children that they should share data with the relevant agencies if they had concerns, in the wake of a number of serious case reviews in the UK where children have died or been seriously injured through abuse or neglect – with poor information sharing being identified as a factor which contributed to the failures to protect children in those cases.

“My message to people supporting and working with children and young people is clear: if you think a child is at risk of harm, you can share information to protect them,” Information Commissioner John Edwards said.

“You 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.

“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.”

The new guidance has been produced to raise awareness of the benefits of sharing information and to highlight how a child could be more at risk if information is not shared.

The ICO said it was also developing a further suite of guidance on information sharing for safeguarding children aimed at specific sectors across the UK.

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