November 2018: This chapter has been revised to include a direct link, as above, to the LLR Safeguarding Adults Information Sharing Agreement, which has now been removed from Local Guidance and Templates.
All organisations and agencies will have their own internal information sharing protocols for safeguarding adults. These protocols recognise that information sharing between organisations is essential to safeguard adults at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation and that in certain circumstances it will be necessary to exchange or disclose personal information in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.
Decisions about what information is shared and with who will be taken on a case by case basis.
It is important to remember that:
- confidentiality must not be confused with secrecy;
- informed consent should be obtained but, if this is not possible and other adults are at risk of abuse or neglect, it may be necessary to override the requirement; and
- it is inappropriate for agencies to give assurances of absolute confidentiality in cases where there are concerns about abuse, particularly in those situations when other vulnerable people may be at risk.
Principles of confidentiality designed to safeguard and promote the interests of an adult should not be confused with those designed to protect the management interests of an organisation. These have a legitimate role but must never be allowed to conflict with the interests of an adult. If it appears to an employee or person in a similar role that such confidentiality rules may be operating against the interests of adults at risk of abuse or neglect then a duty arises to make full disclosure in the public interest.