Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Potion
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:08 pm

Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Postby Potion » Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:38 pm

Hi,

I currently have Social Care involved with my family under s.17 and have given consent for the allocated Social Worker to contact the family G.P and my children's school. Does this consent also give the Social Worker permission to access past records of when I was in care? Any information regrading this query would be much appreciated.

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

Re: Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Aug 08, 2014 2:35 pm

Dear Potion

Welcome to the parent's discussion board. My name is Suzie, one of FRG's online advisers.

As Children's Services are offering family support under a child in need (or section 17 Children Act) plan this means they require your consent to contact agencies as part of a holistic assessment of your family's needs. When a social worker assesses your parenting capacity, they are required to report in an evidence based, balanced and non judgemental manner.

If you have a care history that you are worried about how this may effect the outcome, can I suggest you raise your concerns with the social worker in the first instance. It is always better to hear it first hand so they can assess how you make sense of your past, and what if any actions you have taken to attempt to address any unresolved issues.

You may actually find that your fears are unfounded and it has no bearing on the current assessment's recommendations. It all depends what is recorded on file. But I would say it is normally in your interests to disclose this information so the assessor can see that you are fully engaged in the assessment and can decide how relevant these details are to your current circumstances.

In the event that it was felt that you were seen to be hiding key information and had concerns that you were not cooperating they could decide to escalate their involvement to child protection which may not be in your best interests.

If you wish to discuss your situation in more detail and speak to one of our advisers, can I suggest you contact our advice line on 0808 801 0366 Monday to Friday 09.30 to 03.00 pm.

Best Wishes

Suzie

Potion
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:08 pm

Re: Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Postby Potion » Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:47 pm

Hi Suzie,

Thank you for your reply.

During a meeting with the Social Worker I disclosed that I had spent a period of my childhood in care. The assessment is now complete and there is information that the Social Worker has specifically stated was disclosed by me during the meeting. However, although the majority of the information is accurate, there are some elements that are inaccurate. As a consequence, I initially questioned if perhaps the Social Worker had made false assumptions regarding our conversation about my time in care, or has possibly accessed my records without my knowledge.

I have spoken to the Social Worker, who has informed me that he has not accessed my files and does not believe that additional consent is required to do so, as according to him they belong to the local authority. Furthermore, he has stated that my records have probably been destroyed. Any advice regarding these last points would be much appreciated.

Many thanks.
Last edited by Potion on Sat Aug 16, 2014 4:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Re: Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:38 am

Dear Potion,

The social worker is right to say that technically she could access your children file without your consent as it would be stored by children’s services. However, your local authority’s procedures should set out the process for her doing this.

I would have expected her to have discussed this with you beforehand and asked for your views about her doing this. Not only that, before you were given this information, I assume she would want to discuss support, such as counselling that is likely to be made available to you, as some of the information on the file may cause you distress.

The social worker is incorrect to say that the file has probably been destroyed. The records of looked after children have to be retained for 75 years from birth or 15 years after a child has died if he dies under the age of 18.

You are worried that some of the information in the assessment has been falsified. It is important that you raise this with the social worker. If you have not given her this information, ask her to go back to her notes and finds out where it has come from. If it factually incorrect, ask that it is corrected.
You may want to consider accessing personal files held by children services yourself.

You could also have a look at information about doing this provided by the Care Leavers Association.
Best wishes,
Suzie

Potion
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:08 pm

Re: Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Postby Potion » Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:52 pm

Hi Suzie,

I have raised my concerns regarding some of the inaccuracies written within the assessment, however, during my last conversation with the Social worker he was adamant that these can not be amended.
Last edited by Potion on Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1742
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Aug 11, 2014 4:18 pm

Dear Potion,

Yes, factually incorrect information should be removed from assessment documents.

However, we often hear on our advice line that children services will not amend documents once they are "locked" onto the computer system. So it may not be the fault of your social worker that she has maintained this. It seems to be a common position.

It depends on the local authority, but usually the data protection officer within a local authority can usually ensure that “fixed” documents are corrected.

If there is a difference in opinion between you and the social worker- you could also ask that the document reflects your view as well as hers.
You could suggest a meeting with the team manager to go through the inaccuracies with him/her. Or if this does not happen then look at our tips for working with a social worker which also links to our complaints advice sheet.

Alternatively, you could take further advice from the data protection advice line (run by the Information commissioners office) on 0303 123 1113.
Best wishes,

Suzie

Potion
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:08 pm

Re: Issues regarding consent to access personal records

Postby Potion » Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:30 pm

Thank you.


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