Who can consent to the sharing of personal information

a)  For the purposes of guidance, individuals are presumed (Subject to b below), to have the full mental capacity to take decisions in their own right from the age of 12 years.  Children under the age of 12 may be deemed to have capacity depending on their level of understanding and level of maturity. 

b)  Children 12-15 years are presumed to have a sufficient level of understanding of the nature of consent and its consequences. Staff should be clear that they believe the young person has the capacity to consent. Where they do not believe this is the case staff should seek consent from the parent or person with legal authority to act on behalf of the child/young person.

c)  Parental rights and responsibilities largely cease when the child is age 16. The exception to this is a parent’s responsibility to continue to provide guidance to their child from age 16-18. So practitioners should seek to keep parents/guardians involved in issues affecting their children, but only to the extent that this is compatible with the rights and autonomous choices of the young person.

d) If we disclose any information about a young person, who has the requisite mental capacity, to their parent or guardian without that young person’s consent, we require to justify this in the same way as any other disclosure of information without consent.

e)  For young people over the age of 16, we should seek consent from the individual themselves, in line with the rights of other adults.

f)  In circumstances where there may be a question about an adult’s capacity to give consent to sharing personal information, we should consider their understanding of the issues. If we believe that the person is not able to do this, we should make reference to other relevant persons and the context around the need to share the information (see 5 below).

Note: An individual cannot withdraw consent to sharing retrospectively i.e. if information has been shared already it cannot be un-shared. If information has been shared, an individual has the right to ask for wrong information to be corrected. The receiving agency should be notified accordingly and the information should be corrected and this recorded, but information previously shared cannot be withdrawn.