6. Information sharing
What kind of information should be collected before a decision is made to divert?
Diversion from prosecution involves a referral of someone accused of an offence to a local social work team or other agency. This requires the exchange of relevant and sometimes sensitive information between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the service provider. This can include information exchange between statutory and voluntary organisations. Whilst it is important to ensure that the necessary protections and protocols are in place for exchange of sensitive information, in line with Getting it Right for Every Child all appropriate information should be shared in relation to the young person's needs and risks.
In requesting a report or information from a diversion service provider, the prosecutor will wish to consider the following criteria:
(a) Age and gender, if known;
(b) The name, address and, if possible, telephone details and his or her parents' or guardians' details;
(c) The date, time and nature of the offence;
(d) The existence and age of any co-accused;
(e) The extent of any damage or harm caused to an identifiable person(s) and/or other affected persons;
(f) Any risk factors or vulnerability, including his or her family situation, if known;
(g) Involvement of the Local Authority Social Work Department or other relevant agencies, if known;
(h) Any previous participation in any service or process, if known;
(i) Age and gender
(j) The name, address and, if possible, telephone details his or her parents or guardians
(k) Any risk factors or vulnerability, including his or her family situation, if known;
(l) Involvement of the Local Authority Social Work Department or other relevant agencies, if known;
(m) Any previous participation in any service or process, if known.
Information sharing protocols must be agreed and signed off by seniors in the local Procurator Fiscal Office and by the service provider. (Some examples of protocols that currently work well are given at Annex E.) Any protocol should take account of the following key aspects of effective and secure information sharing:
1. The service provider undertakes to supply the Procurator Fiscal with updates on all referrals that are accepted. Parties need to agree on how often such updates will be provided.
2. The service provider further undertakes to supply the Procurator Fiscal with details of all cases that are closed due to successful completion. Parties need to agree on how often such updates will be provided.
4. Young people who agree to participate in diversion programmes must give their consent in writing, co-signed by their parent/guardian if applicable, to the sharing of information regarding their offending behaviour between all agencies involved, whether this data is held on computer or otherwise.
5. Disclosure of information by the Procurator Fiscal to the service provider will be restricted to named persons in accordance with an agreement reached by both parties. Whilst the Procurator Fiscal will co-operate with the service providers wherever possible, there will be no absolute requirement on him or her to disclose information if such disclosure is considered to be unnecessary (not relevant to the offence or consequences) or might be undesirable (detrimental to the young person or victim).
6. Information disclosed by the Procurator Fiscal will only be used by the service provider in relation to their work concerning diversion of the person responsible. It will not be used by the service provider for any other purpose.
7. Information disclosed by the Procurator Fiscal will be relevant and not excessive to enable the service provider to make an assessment of the appropriate service for an accused/person responsible (and where appropriate the person harmed/victim). Whilst every effort will be made to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, this cannot be guaranteed by the Procurator Fiscal. Information which is thought by the service provider to be inaccurate will be returned to the Procurator Fiscal for checking and, if necessary, correction or deletion.
8. Information which is personal information within the terms of data protection requirements can be disclosed by the Procurator Fiscal provided that the data protection purposes of the agency to which the information is disclosed allow for such disclosure.
9. Information will be treated as 'confidential' and will be held by the service provider under secure conditions. It will be accessible on a strict 'need to know' basis.
10. Information will not be retained by the service provider for longer than is necessary for the aims of the diversion programme to be accomplished. Thereafter it will be disposed of as soon as practicable using confidential waste facilities.
11. All agencies involved in diversion must operate within the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998 and signed information sharing protocols must be in place and revised at regular intervals.