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RIASS Redbridge
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Confidentiality Policy

All parents and young people will be informed of this policy during their first contact with RIASS or will be directed to it on the website.

The local authority, schools, colleges, other education settings and other relevant professionals and services are made aware of the requirements of RIASS Confidentiality and Impartiality policies.

Confidentiality will normally be assured to anyone seeking information, advice and/or support from any member of RIASS staff or volunteer.  This means that whatever the YP or parent/carer tells RIASS will not be discussed with anyone else without their permission (see Exceptions below).

This also means that no person outside the organisation should ever know that a parent/carer or YP has even been in contact with RIASS. All RIASS staff/volunteers should ensure that no discussions relating to an individual user take place where they can be overheard by a third party.

Redbridge Information, Advice and Support Service (RIASS) provides a confidential and impartial service to children, young people with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) and their parents/carers living in the London Borough of Redbridge.

A young person (YP) is defined as someone who is over compulsory school leaving age – that is the end of the school year (last Friday in June) in which they turn 16 up to the age of 25. This means the rights, including any right of appeal, switches from parents to the YP subject to them having capacity to do so under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 & Code of Practice (CoP) 2.13 and Annex 1 of CoP).

This means YP will receive a confidential service from RIASS and information they share will not be passed on to anyone else, including their parents, unless they give permission for this to happen.  RIASS will encourage YP to share their views and thoughts with their parents but it is important that parents understand that the YP is entitled to have their right to confidentiality respected.

Children, YP and parents/carers will normally self-refer to RIASS, either by telephone or email.  RIASS will only accept referrals from third parties if a YP or parent/carer is aware of the referral and has given their permission for their contact details to be passed on to the service. Occasionally a brief summary or some background information explaining why the professional believes the parent or YP needs support from RIASS may also be included.

The Exceptions

The law requires all professionals, regardless of who they work for, to pass on concerns including confidential information regarding safeguarding issues, that is the protection of children or vulnerable adults, and for the prevention of crime.

What this means is if information is given or circumstances arise in which any member of RIASS staff or volunteer thinks the safety or welfare of a child or vulnerable adult may be at risk, their protection will be given priority over the requirement for confidentiality. Should this situation occur the information received will be discussed with the relevant line manager.  If they jointly decide that this information should be passed on to the statutory authorities, the member of RIASS staff will try to encourage and support the parent or YP to do this directly, but if they are unwilling, or this is not possible then the information will be passed on to the local authority, and the parent or YP will be informed when this has occurred.  Should this situation arise RIASS will still be willing to continue to advise and support the parent or YP with their SEND issues, and will advise them who else they may wish to contact for appropriate support. Some examples of circumstances in which this might arise could be (this is not a full list):

  • where there is evidence that physical, sexual, emotional abuse and/or neglect of someone has taken place and this is not already known to the local authority;
  • where a person who has been refused contact with a child or YP is in fact having contact with them;
  • if a court order is in place and the requirements of it are being ignored or broken;
  • the information relates to criminal activity.

RIASS is there to empower parents and YP and the very nature of the RIASS role often means close trusting relationships develop with families. Whilst RIASS will always maintain a caring and professional relationship in its work with parents and YP, the safety of children or vulnerable YP or adults is always a priority, RIASS will not judge and will instead:

  • help the parent or YP understand what the safeguarding (child/vulnerable person’s protection) concerns are perceived to be and why;
  • avoid giving false hopes by reinforcing views which are unlikely to be acceptable to the local authority or helpful to their participation in the process;
  • avoid going along or cooperating with anything which might place a child or vulnerable person at risk; and
  • identify when their (the RIASS employee/volunteer’s) own reporting threshold is reached.

Arrangements for accessing information from other professionals

RIASS staff/volunteers will only request access to files or copies of documents held by the LA or other agencies with prior permission of the parent or the YP.  RIASS will not hold any information, electronic or paper versions, unless it has been provided by the parent or YP or has been received with their consent (verbal, email or a signed agreement).

RIASS staff will not discuss the file or any of its contents with anybody who is not directly connected with the case and only then if consent has been given by the parents or YP.

On certain occasions for example Secondary Transfer, or Preparing for Adulthood (Y9), RIASS may ask the SEN department to send out invitations to relevant parents and/or children so they can be invited to a meeting that RIASS is hosting on these topics. This may also occasionally happen for other information or training sessions hosted by RIASS.

Security and RIASS files

There is no arrangement or agreement for anybody else to access RIASS files. They are for RIASS staff and RIASS alone. They are kept on a secure database, which can only be accessed by RIASS staff.  Any paper copies of documents given to RIASS staff/volunteers for information are scanned onto the database and the paper copies shredded. On occasions it may be helpful to share information with others but this will only be done with parents or YP prior knowledge and consent.

Notes taken by RIASS staff on behalf of parents or YP at meetings may also be kept on RIASS database unless the parents or YP requests differently. If others present at the meeting request a copy of these notes this will only be done with the permission of the parent or YP.

The computer drive that RIASS uses is not accessed by anyone outside of the service.

All parents and YP are informed when they first contact RIASS that their details are held on RIASS’ dedicated database that cannot be accessed by anyone else. They are also made aware that under Data Protection law parents and YP have a right to request a copy of their file held by RIASS just the same as they can with the school, LA or their health records. The only reason for refusing, or removing some of the information, is if it is believed that the contents may cause harm or distress to the parent, YP or child.  However, it would be unusual for this to happen.

All information is kept and destroyed in line with current data protection law.

The terms of this policy may change. This statement was last reviewed in August 2022 and is due for review August 2023