Access to records

Beanie
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:21 am

Access to records

Postby Beanie » Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:17 pm

My family has been involved with social services for over a year now, and my "children" have moved from Child in Need to Child Protection to Pre-Proceedings and back to Child in Need in that time. I put "children" in inverted commas, as my son was 18 in January, and so Children's Social Care are no longer interested in him. We now have one more Child in Need meeting in July (for my daughter who is 14), and have been told that it will be the last one, as my daughter will then be taken off Child in Need too.

My story is a long one (I think I may have explained some of it in another discussion about recording meetings) but to explain the situation quickly - my husband was accused of sexual assault (smacking a 19 year old female on the bottom in work), which he was found not guilty of in court, and someone else then accused him of historic sexual abuse, which the police decided was to be 'no further action'. Our daughter (he is her step dad) has made NO allegations at all, and, in fact, has said the opposite, begging for him to be allowed home since day 1. Because of the not guilty verdict, he has now been allowed home, but Children's Social Care insist he is still a risk and that I am an unprotective carer, as I absolutely believe him to be innocent of all allegations (as do all our family and friends, and most importantly, our daughter and son - and the children's biological father!).

As I am a teacher, the social worker felt it was her duty to report me to the Local Authority (within 2 weeks of the historic allegations being made), and I have not been allowed into work for the majority of the year. I have continuously asked for copies of the referrals that were sent into the Authority, so I could effectively defend myself, but nobody has been forthcoming in this request. I have been told by the social worker that the reason they reported me was because of my total belief in my husband's innocence and my unwillingness to have an "open mind" about the allegations - however, this is not what I was told by my Headteacher, who said I was being called unco-operative and being accused of not engaging in the process. So, you can see why I want to read the information for myself, especially now I have been allowed back to work, despite my opinion about my husband's innocence not changing. I am understandably very anxious about being back at work without a clear understanding as to why I was barred in the first place, especially as my Headteacher recorded that he had no concerns about my safeguarding ability or my professionalism at all.

The Local Authority have said I need to ask Children's Social Care for the paperwork, as it is not the LA's paperwork to share; but at a recent meeting, when I asked again for copies, I was told, under no uncertain terms, that I would NOT be given anything, as it was internal paperwork, and they didn't have to share it. I have already taken the advice from your advice sheets, and written to them, asking for copies, quoting Data Protection, but I am still getting no-where.

Are they allowed to say I am not entitled to paperwork that has my name on it and is about me, and has been shared with other agencies (the Local Authority and my Headteacher, who also won't show me anything)? How is this "internal"?

I look forward to hearing your advice, as I am finding the whole situation stressful and upsetting, and need some closure.

Beanie

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1737
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Access to records

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Jun 27, 2017 1:34 pm

Dear Beanie,

It is my understanding that both the school and children services should follow the Data Protection Act, outlined in our advice sheet, access to records.

There is no blanket rule that internal communications are secret. The social worker should have passed on your request to the person responsible for data protection.
The Data Protection officer must go through the documents you are requesting and decide whether any of the information should be given to you.
As your daughter is 14, they will consider whether she is competent to consent to disclosure to you or whether your request as a person with parental responsibility is enough.

Here are some very useful tips about accessing information from the Information Commissioner’s office. They suggest, finding out who in the local authority deals with data access. Then directing the request to that person. There are also helpful template letters.
That might be the better way forward-going straight to the person who knows the law around access to files.

I hope this helps as I know how frustrating it can be. Post back if you have any questions.

Best wishes,
Suzie

Beanie
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:21 am

Re: Access to records

Postby Beanie » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:20 pm

Thanks for the helpful advice, Suzie. My daughter has already signed a form to agree to me accessing any records, so there's no issue with that. I'll try to find the right person to ask!

Beanie
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:21 am

Re: Access to records

Postby Beanie » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:54 am

Just a quick update - I phoned the data protection office after finding the number on the "Accessing your Records" leaflet given to my daughter (she is no longer involved with Children's Social Care) and have now received all our records, including the LADO referral.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1737
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Access to records

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:11 pm

Dear Beanie

Thank you for your update. I am glad to hear that you have succeeded in obtaining the records you asked for about your family, including the information which you were previously told you were not entitled to as it was “internal”. I hope that this will help you clarify what the specific issues were as you had been given mixed messages by the social worker and your headteacher. It sounds as if contacting the Data Protection Officer is a wise move in this sort of situation.

Best wishes

Suzie

Beanie
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:21 am

Re: Access to records

Postby Beanie » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:55 pm

Another quick update - the Data Protection Officer has been fantastic. She has been quick to respond to all my requests and questions, and has been a font of understanding and knowledge. She even didn't make me feel as if I was being awkward or difficult when I had to phone her to ask her to do even more work! So very different from the way we have been treated by Children's Social Care during this whole, awful affair.

I am now in the process of making a formal complaint. You are so right when you say it is a long and difficult process! I am being passed from pillar to post, and feel as though (as I have come to expect from the Authority) my complaint is being misunderstood and misinterpreted, and excuses are being made every step of the way. However, I am determined not to give up, and I am equally determined that someone will be made accountable for the distressing handling of our case.

Thank you for your help and support!

Dad_plus_two
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: London

Re: Access to records

Postby Dad_plus_two » Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:31 pm

Beanie wrote:Another quick update - the Data Protection Officer has been fantastic. She has been quick to respond to all my requests and questions, and has been a font of understanding and knowledge. She even didn't make me feel as if I was being awkward or difficult when I had to phone her to ask her to do even more work! So very different from the way we have been treated by Children's Social Care during this whole, awful affair.

I am now in the process of making a formal complaint. You are so right when you say it is a long and difficult process! I am being passed from pillar to post, and feel as though (as I have come to expect from the Authority) my complaint is being misunderstood and misinterpreted, and excuses are being made every step of the way. However, I am determined not to give up, and I am equally determined that someone will be made accountable for the distressing handling of our case.

Thank you for your help and support!


What an awful situation to be in. I am going through that long process as we speak. I too found that the Data Protection Officer for my the County Council was very helpful and considerate. They did not judge or attempt to end the phone call by suggesting "They are about to go into a meeting". The DPO has been amazing, very responsive and highly professional. The complete opposite of my interactions with Children Services.

Best of luck

Sablesnow
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:47 am

Re: Access to records

Postby Sablesnow » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:45 pm

Oh Beanie!
I'm in a similar situation. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and I'm so pleased you finally got the information.
x


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