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Storing and sharing safeguarding information

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Safeguarding and record keeping

As DSL, you are required to keep records about any safeguarding concerns. You may decide to keep paper records or use electronic storage. Whatever method you choose, make sure it’s secure, and no-one else outside your organisation has access to it. 

Accurate and up-to-date records of safeguarding concerns are essential for a number of reasons.

  • They can help you identify concerns at an early stage.
  • They can help you identify patterns of concern.
  • They can enable you to record seemingly minor issues to build a more complete picture of what a person may be experiencing.
  • They help you monitor and manage safeguarding practices, including decision making, actions taken and agreed joint strategies with other agencies.
  • They can provide you with evidence to support actions both within your organisation and when working with external agencies.
  • They can support you to demonstrate action taken to reduce impact of harm.
  • They can provide continuity when staff or volunteers change or are unavailable.

Types of records

Records do not have to be complex – a simple form can be created. As a minimum, you should create a reporting form, a case file and a concerns log. 

Reporting form 

This should be a paper-based form or an electronic form which staff and volunteers can use to report a concern.  

What to include

  • Who is making the report.
  • When the report was made.
  • What the concern is (using the ‘who, what, where, when’ method).
  • Why they were concerned.

Consider how you will receive the reporting form. If you are using email, or an online form, you must consider the security of the information you receive. 

Safeguarding case file

A safeguarding case file is your record, as DSL, of any decision making, actions or information related to the concern. This could be a paper-based file or an electronic file.  

What to include

  • Name of the DSL.
  • Date concern received.
  • Who else the concern is discussed with.
  • Action taken.
  • Any rationale for decision making.
  • External organisations reported or referred to.
  • Information sharing (who, when and why).

Concerns log

A safeguarding concerns log is a tool for you, as DSL, to keep a track of the safeguarding concerns reported to you. It could be a paper-based form or electronic file, like a spreadsheet. 

The concerns log should give you a quick guide to outstanding cases and actions. It should not include any personal details, which should be kept in the safeguarding case file. The concerns log also helps you to report both internally and externally on the number and types of safeguarding concerns you’re receiving. 

Keeping and storing records

There is no one way to set up safeguarding records but there are key things that should be in place.

  • They should be started as soon as you become aware of any concern.
  • Use clear and straightforward language.
  • Be concise and accurate, so they can be understood by anyone not familiar with the case.
  • Clearly differentiate between facts, opinions and judgements.
  • Make sure they’re up to date and preferably in chronological order.

Storage of safeguarding records

  • Keep them secure and separate from any general records.
  • Separate each person
  • Only keep them for as long as necessary.
  • Make sure they’re only accessible to relevant staff and volunteers.

If you work with children, use this further guidance for organisations on keeping and storing records. (from the NSPCC)

Safeguarding and information sharing

To keep children and adults safe, information needs to be shared so that decisions can be made about how to protect them. 

The law recognises that sharing information is a part of day-to-day safeguarding practice.

Where it’s covered

  • The common law duty of confidentiality.
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 - which implements the the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). 
  • The Human Rights Act 
  • The Crime and Disorder Act.
  • Care Act 2014

Sharing information is an important part of safeguarding. If the information is confidential, but there is a safeguarding concern, sharing information is allowed both within and between organisations.

Selmouth Drop In runs a breakfast and lunch club for local homeless people. They have a team of part time staff and volunteers. As well as serving meals, they offer support to people to find accommodation and look after themselves. Because not all staff work every day, they have a concern log on their computer. At the end-of-day briefing, any concerns are recorded, along with any actions they feel the next team need to take. Each morning the shift leader looks at the concern log and briefs the new team on any concerns which need to be followed up.  

In this example, information is being shared to make sure the Selmouth Drop In team can effectively deal with any safeguarding concerns and provide continuity of support.

One day, a fight breaks out between two men. The DSL knows that Bill takes anti-psychotic medication, so after the incident, they find an appropriate time to talk to Bill and ask if how their health is doing. Bill tells the DSL that their medication has run out and they don’t know what to do. The DSL knows who Bill’s doctor is and asks if it’s OK to arrange an appointment and let them know what has happened. Bill agrees this would be a good idea. 

In this example, information is being shared between organisations, to keep a person safe. In this situation the person has also given permission for the information to be shared. 

Do you need consent?

Wherever possible, always seek consent from the person involved in the concern. Be open and honest with the person about why, what, how and with whom, their information will be shared. For example, are you making a referral because you think they are at risk of harm or are you letting people know for information only? 

If you decide to share information after the person refuses permission, you must explain to them why you have made the decision to share without their permission. 

Five safeguarding reasons you may share information without consent  
  • If you think a person is at serious risk of harm or abuse, including harming themselves.
  • If you receive information which indicates that a serious crime has been or is going to be committed.
  • If you are required to by law, for example, for some professions, any suspicion of forced marriage or female genital mutilation.
  • If you think the person lacks the mental capacity to decide and have agreed with another senior manager it would be in the individual’s best interest.
  • If an individual gives information which indicates a possible terrorist threat.

If you'd like to share these reasons with colleagues you can use our slideshow of safeguarding reasons for sharing information without consent.

How to share information

  • Use the official form. If you are referring to another organisation or social services, they may have a form to use. Try to use this as it helps the organisation to process information quickly. 
  • Use specific language and describe the situation in factual detail. Different teams and agencies may use different terminology, so make sure you use clear language.
  • Keep it secure. If you are sending personal or sensitive information, keep it secure. If you don’t have an encrypted email, password protect any documents or consider other methods of keeping information safe. 
  • Record what you have shared. Any information shared, whether verbally or by writing must be recorded. 

If you work with children and young people you can find more guidance in Information sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (from

Page last edited Oct 07, 2019

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