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Accurate and effective information sharing is important in ensuring that the Drug
Interventions Programme (DIP) and the Prolific and other Priority Offender
Programmes (PPO) are as successful as possible. It is also probably the subject of
more enquiries and discussion than any other item.

In response to queries from colleagues from many different agencies in the field we
have brought together a briefing note on the general approach to information sharing
and the issues it raises. It is not intended as the definitive guide – it would be a brave
individual who claimed to have done that. But I hope it will be helpful.

When looking at some of the challenges presented by information sharing and the
complex legislative framework it is surrounded by, it is important to consider the
whole range of possible statutory provisions that are available. This will enhance
flexibility and improve the effectiveness of looking purely at the individual provisions.

The more we are able to use the whole range of statutory provisions available, the
greater our partnership working will be and the wider reaching our results will be.


For further guidance on information sharing please see the links below. These cover
legislation and guidance relevant to this subject.

Data Protection Act 1998

Drugs Act 2005

Human Rights Act 1998

Crime and Disorder Act 1998

DIP Operational Process Guidance for Implementation of Testing on Arrest, Required

Assessment and Restriction on Bail

Department of Constitutional Affairs Guidance. ‘Public Sector Data Sharing: Guidance on the
Law, November 2003’
High Level Summary

The Drug Interventions Programme (DIP) and the Prolific and other Priority Offender
(PPO) Programme are two of the Government’s most successful offender
management approaches – intervening with offenders before, during and after
contact with the criminal justice system. Part of the success of these programmes is
the focus they place on the collective responsibility of local partnerships to manage
those who offend the most or those whose offending causes most damage to their
local communities.

An important principle of working collectively is the sharing of relevant information

with partners which can help the clients and offenders we work with as well as
increase the impact of the DIP and PPO programme. With the right safeguards in
place it is possible for information sharing to take place in a way that helps deliver the
better services that we all want, while still respecting people's legitimate expectations
about the privacy and confidentiality of their personal information.

The legislative framework around information sharing is complex and there is a range
of existing guidance available. This can make it difficult for local agencies to navigate
a way through this and make decisions about what information it is appropriate and
lawful to share.

It is important to consider the whole range of possible statutory provisions that are
available in relation to information sharing, depending on the different circumstances
presented. This will enhance flexibility and improve the effectiveness by looking
beyond the individual provisions.

This short briefing provides a high level summary of the ethos of information sharing
and covers three areas where understanding the parameters of information sharing
are vital:
• Information sharing has an important role to play in ensuring effective continuity
of care. With the informed consent of the individual, it is possible - and
beneficial to the client - to pass relevant information about their treatment to
other organisations involved in their care. This needs to be done within the
boundaries set by a number of pieces of legislation, and within local

• DIP and PPO interventions can only be effective if those involved with an
individual are able to share information necessary to ensure an appropriate
response to that person’s compliance or failure to comply with what has been
legally required of them.

• Information sharing also has an important role to play in intelligence gathering,

for example in identifying particular crime hot spots. Where aggregated
information is used for this purpose so that the client cannot be identified, the
provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) will not apply as it will not be
personal data. The use of non-aggregated (i.e. individual) data is permissible
where there is informed consent from the client but should otherwise be limited
to those cases where such action can be clearly justified (see below).

Information sharing - Continuity of care

In order to improve continuity of care and treatment, it is important to ensure

consistency in terms of what, when and how information is shared. It is a sensitive
issue and it is important that it is properly handled. Ensuring that a drug misusing
offender is appropriately supported throughout his or her contact with the criminal
justice system, treatment or other support services is therefore essential in
maximising their chances of remaining engaged in treatment. It is likely that various
individuals and agencies may be involved with the individual at different stages of
their treatment and/or criminal justice process and therefore important for workers to
clarify whether someone else is already involved in their care/case and whether
(within the legal framework) they should be speaking to and exchanging information
with that other individual or agency.

For continuity of care purposes, however, information may generally only be shared
with informed consent. Exceptions apply in line with existing confidentiality
arrangements and the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), for example where the client
may be likely to harm themselves, or another person.

The client must not only be informed about and understand the uses to which the
information will be put, but also the circumstances when confidentiality may be
broken. They must agree to the information being shared for purposes as outlined.
The worker and the individual must sign the consent form attached to the Drug
Interventions Record (DIR) to confirm that this has occurred.

Once consent has been given for such sharing between the specified agencies, and
not subsequently withdrawn by the client, workers can share information contained
on the DIR between those agencies. This means, for example, that not only can a
CJIT worker give information to a CARATS team, but that they may also receive
relevant information in return without further consent being obtained (as both these
agencies are named on the form).

The information on the DIR may also be used to inform:

§ a pre sentence report
§ facilitate early identification of offenders who may be suitable for a community
order with a drug rehabilitation requirement (DRR)
§ inform sentence planning in custody and on release.

Information sharing – compliance or failure to comply

DIP process guidance includes advice on what information needs to be shared to

meet the legal requirements for Testing on Arrest, required assessment and
Restriction on Bail – including when consent may be required.

…with the police

For example specific provision has been made in instances where a positive test
result is obtained and the police require initial and follow-up assessments to be
undertaken, that the test result and requirement are communicated to the Criminal
Justice Integrated Team which will be carrying out those assessments. The sharing
of information between the police and CJIT for this purpose does not require the
consent of the individual, although good practice is to inform the client.

Information sharing on compliance is also important, for example, where there is

breach of attendance at assessment or restric tion on bail provisions. Sections 12(2)
and 14(2) of the Drugs Act requires the assessor to inform a police officer if the
person fails to attend and remain at an initial or a follow-up assessment.
…with Offender Managers
CJITs and CARATs also have certain roles and responsibilities with respect to
sharing information with consent from the DIR with Probation/Offender Managers to
inform Pre-Sentence Reports and for the early identification of potential Drug
Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR) cases.

Sharing information to monitor compliance with an Order/Licence should preferably

be with the informed consent of the client. There are circumstances however,
allowed for under the DPA, where relevant and appropriate information may be
shared without this consent, for example where such sharing is necessary for the
administration of justice. Such circumstances must however be looked at on a case
by case basis. Typical compliance information that Offender Managers may request
includes whether the offender is on the caseload and whether they are keeping
appointments in line with their agreed plan. Further advice is being prepared by
NOMS probation and partners on the arrangements and details relating to
information sharing without consent for the administration of justice to include
§ with a DRR who may be subject to RoB,
§ without a specific DRR
§ with a licence condition to tackle their drug misuse
§ without a licence condition to tackle their drug misuse.

…between CJITS and PPO programme

Effective information sharing between CJITS and PPO teams is one of the key
elements of the alignment of the two programmes. The over-arching premise is that
information will be shared about individuals only to the degree that enables both the
CJIT and PPO programme to be sufficiently aligned to provide the most effective
case management for the individuals concerned.

One of the key benefits of alignment is to provide the potential for CJITs to refer the
most non-compliant DIP clients to the PPO programme, and for the programme to
consider their adoption as PPOs, in order to benefit from the more intensive offender
management regime of the PPO programme. In this instance, it may be necessary
to discuss details of the individual which go beyond simply noting that they are on the
CJIT/DIP caseload.

The key to ensuring the legality of such information sharing is that it is processed in a
fair way. In other words, clients should be informed that information about them will
be passed on for these purposes.

Sharing Non-aggregated data

The use of aggregated data (where individuals cannot be identified) for intelligence
gathering purposes is well established and largely non-contentious. The use of non
aggregated or personalised data is more complicated and requires a careful
balancing of the individuals rights to confidentiality, enshrined in common law and the
Data Protection Act 1998, against public protection and crime reduction
considerations covered by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Where police or other partners are intending to use non aggregated data for
intelligence gathering the optimum position is to obtain informed consent from the
offender to ensure that they are fully aware and agree to personal information being
used for these purposes.
Where there is no informed consent, the general principle is that non-aggregated
data should only be used in circumstances where there are specific public protection
concerns and then only on a case by case basis. It would not be acceptable to
actively use information such as a positive drug test in isolation to target that
individual whereas the use of personalised data might be justified where police are
acting on specific information to prevent the commission of a serious offence. The
key to ensuring the legality of such information sharing is that it is processed in a fair
way, i.e. clients should be informed that information about them may be passed on
for these purposes.

Treatment providers should not be required to give their reasons for making the
decision to withhold certain information, and should not be coerced into providing
information on any of their clients for which no adequate justification has been
provided or which is not necessary within the law.

Local agreements

The use of non-aggregated data for intelligence needs to be considered on a case by

case basis for each specific single purpose – and that purpose should be clearly
understood by all parties. It is therefore important for local areas to establish local
information sharing agreements so that all partners know ground rules for disclosure.
Local agreements promote a clear understanding of what information is required in
what format; why it is required; and how it will be used. They also help to foster
mutual trust necessary for effective co-operation between local partners and are the
best way to ensure information is handled properly.

Further information

§ Data Protection Act 1998

§ Drugs Act 2005
§ Human Rights Act 1998
§ DIP Operational Process Guidance for Implementation of Testing on Arrest,
Required Assessment and Restriction on Bail
§ Department of Constitutional Affairs Guidance. ‘Public Sector Data Sharing:
Guidance on the Law, November 2003’