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Understanding Confidentiality

How your age can impact things

This page is about how your age impacts what we do with your information. You can also use the buttons below to understand more about what we do with your information in general, what your rights are around your information and data and read our policies in full.

If you have any questions that aren't covered here, you can reach us at theteam@42ndstreet.org.uk


On this page


Your data

Your age doesn't impact the rights you have to access data held about you. We will ensure that all data held on you is treated with the same confidentiality and security, regardless of your age, unless you or someone else is at risk of significant harm, as explained on our main page about your information.


 

Safeguarding

When it comes to sharing information because we’re concerned about someone’s safety, regardless of how old you are we;

 

1. will always try to talk you about this first and to involve you in the decision, as much as we can


 

2. may talk the decision through with the 42nd Street manager on duty before sharing information, to make sure we are acting in the best interests of everyone involved

 

3. will only share the information needed to make sure everyone involved is kept safe and only do so with relevant services


 

4. will update you with the outcomes of any information sharing

 

We’ll consider all your circumstances when deciding to share information, and your age is only one of these factors. The only time when your age becomes a bigger factor is when we feel it’s important to share information but you ask us not to; or when we can't get in touch with you.

There are four important concepts involved in making a decision about sharing your information in these circumstances:

UN Convention on Rights of the Child

For legal purposes, a "child" here is defined as anybody under the age of 18. There are 2 important articles to be aware of in the UNCRC:

Article 12: every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes at any time for all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously
Article 16: every child has the right to privacy (including their private, family and home life) and that they should be protected from unlawful attacks on their reputation

These mean that if you ask us not to share information, we will listen to your views and wishes and take them seriously. If we can find a way to keep to you safe and respect any wishes not to disclose your information then we will.

However, it’s important to know that this isn’t always possible, and if there is a risk of someone being seriously harmed (like a risk to life or active abuse happening) we may still need to tell someone else.

Articles 27, 28, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 39 all talk about the rights that children have to be protected from a variety of harms and the obligations of governments to ensure this.

These articles mean we also have a legal responsibility to act to keep all children safe.

 

This is why we may need to share information at times, even if it may go against your wishes. We will only ever share information with the people that absolutely need to know, and we will take every effort to ensure your right to privacy is protected as much as possible.

Sharing information will only ever be done if doing so is the only way to keep someone safe from significant harm and will fully take into account your rights and interests as much as possible.

Learn more about the rights you have under the UNCRC about your data here.


 

The Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act is an important law that assumes people over 16 have more capacity to make decisions than younger children, unless it's proven that they lack this capacity.

Legally speaking, having ‘capacity’ means that someone understands the information relevant to the decision, can retain that information, use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision, and communicate this decision.

The act specifically mentions those over 16 having the ‘mental capacity’ to make decisions about their own healthcare (such as medical treatments) and when it comes to these decisions, it also says that

it is unfair to expect someone to make a decision without providing all practical support available (in other words, you can’t be expected to make a decision if no one’s explained all the options properly)

Lastly, the act makes it clear that people over 16 have the right to ‘make unwise decisions’ and that these cannot be used as evidence that they lack the capacity to make different ones.

In other words, you can mess things up and make decisions you regret just like anyone else and these can't be held against you or used to suggest that you can't make different choices in the future without there also being something else that might prove this.

For us, this means that if we’ve done everything we can to provide support, given you all the information needed to make a decision and have no reason to believe that you’re lacking in capacity, then we will respect your wishes around sharing your information...

However!

It’s important to know that this only applies if you are the only person at risk and if the risk is not a threat to your life.

If another child or young person is at risk, we may still need to tell someone who can help them to be safe.


 

Gillick Competency

Gillick Competency (along with a similar concept called ‘Fraser Guidelines’) is a way of determining whether a child (someone under 18) is able to consent to something.

Gillick Competency considers a person’s maturity, experiences, general intelligence, understanding of consequences & risk and their decision making so far to determine if they can knowingly give consent for something to happen.

This is what allows you to come directly to us for support, without your parents being involved, if that's what you'd like to do.

For us, this means that we check if you understand the confidentiality information on our site and the nature of the support we offer and if so, you’re usually able to access support on your own.

Gillick competency is a concept that is sometimes also relevant about risks too:

If you are 15 or under and at risk of "significant harm", there's a good chance we may have to share this information with someone else, but we will also talk to you about it and listen to your thoughts and input about how it should happen and who might be best to support you, because you've already proved yourself to be Gillick competent


 

UN Declaration of Human Rights

The UNDHR is mainly relevant for those over 18. Article 12 of this says that;

no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with their privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon their honour and reputation

This means that if you’re over 18 and ask us not to share something, it’s very likely that we will respect your wishes.

The only circumstances under which we may still share this information is if

  • There is a risk to life
  • Someone under 18 is at risk

Learn more about the rights you have under the UNDHR about your data here.

 
 
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