But, don’t they already do that?

Damion Nickerson
Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

I have been working on the improving information sharing between Police and health services publication from its early conception and have enjoyed looking and working with some of the projects in the case studies; understanding, dissecting and uncovering information sharing between the services and other third sector and public service partners.

Understanding the barriers to information sharing between services is one of the most important parts of my roles. Understanding what has enabled them or what would enable them to work through those barriers and deliver the transformation to services for those individuals that most need them has been the key to establishing learning tools.

Seeing the results that these case studies have had has brought these discussions into many of my conversations in other areas of work and the learning doesn’t just stop with these two services, but for me works across the national and local arena co-dependently.

In my conversations about the work a re-occurring question has been delivered to me time and time again:

‘Don’t they already do that?’
The answer I start with is always ‘yes, they do’. It’s the right answer and I know that information sharing between Police and health services does happen, but then I have to pause. My pause is time to work out how to explain the next bit.

Police and health services are complex and working together collaboratively requires both areas to manage information in an informed way and manage risk. Putting information sharing at the heart of their collaborative working allows early intervention and preventative work enables better care for patients, supports safeguarding and the promotion of welfare and improves public protection. It is vitally important for the Police and health services to find innovative and new ways to work together because effective information sharing improves the services they deliver for members of the public, particularly in emergencies or when someone is near crisis.

In the publication, we also discuss the cultural issues affecting information sharing because both the police and health services have an existing information sharing culture that influences how their staff behave and ‘feel’ about information that they hold about individuals.

We know at the Centre that outcomes can only be transformed when organisations start to recognise the cultural barriers and enablers to information sharing and work alongside this as well as the information governance that is in place. This is enabled by ensuring that organisations can demonstrate that; the data they hold is used both legally and ethically and not as an obstruction to legitimate innovation and collaborative service delivery, but a safeguard to enabling the lawful and ethical sharing of data.

So the answer still stands ‘yes they do’, but like everything, we can always work to do it better with better outcomes. I hope that you find this publication engaging and that the case studies inspire you and the section with questions to consider when sharing information will act as a valuable tool.

A full version of the report along with videos of the case studies are available online at www.informationsharing.org.uk/healthandpolice

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