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Use of personal data in child safeguarding: opportunities and challenges

19.09.2018

Child safeguarding is necessarily a multi-agency exercise. Increasingly local authorities are beginning to take a data-based approach, combining data from across agencies to identify which families are most in need of intervention. This can help more accurately target interventions and save money.

In a live debate on RT on Sky, Sam Fowles argues that a data-based approach to safeguarding has huge potential but also comes with risks. Data is a tool, if used properly then it can help local authorities make accurately targeted interventions to help vulnerable families. But local authorities must also take care that they are using personal data lawfully. Although consent is not always necessary, data must always be used in a manner that is fair and transparent.

Where decision-making is entirely automated, Article 22 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes strict limits on the use of personal data. Where decision-making is partly automated, local authorities must be transparent about how they use data and keep the algorithms used under close scrutiny to ensure they do not incorporate unlawful biases.

The Information Commissioner has indicated that she will take a close interest in the use of data and profiling to target safeguarding interventions. Local authorities may, therefore, wish to take legal advice before adopting such an approach. Cornerstone's data protection and information law team can provide legal advice to local authorities on all aspects of data protection.

Watch the full clip here.

Sam is a pupil at Cornerstone Barristers and will be a new tenant from 1 October 2018.