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					Recording of information in FGCs This practice note has been developed by Family Rights Group in consultation with the FGC network. FGCs do not sit easily with standard recording policies in local authorities and therefore projects will need to develop their own recording policies that are different to those governing other services, whilst still complying with the Data Protection Act 1998. The FGC service, if part of a larger organisation, will be governed by the parent agency’s policy and procedure, the FGC service may therefore need to negotiate amendments/exemptions so that FGC service’s policies doesn’t contradict that of the parent organisation’s. The following protocol is intended as advice on good practice only.

Recording of information on the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) The ICS (or equivalent) was introduced by most Local Authorities in January 2007. A referring social worker is likely to record the following about FGC referrals on the ICS: 1. The referral 2. Information presented to the FGC by the social worker 3. A copy of the family plan 4. Any child protection concerns raised by FGC staff during the planning of the FGC or any concerns raised at the meeting It is the responsibility of the social worker to record information on the ICS and not the FGC coordinator.


Recording of information by FGC workers It is usual to keep a copy of the following: 1. Referral form 2. Names and contact details of family members 3. A copy of the family plan 4. Dates and times of meetings and who was present 5. Details of anyone who was excluded from the meeting by the coordinator and reasons for the exclusion. This is for health and safety reasons. 6. Details of any child protection and health and safety issues that emerged during the FGC process. Families should be informed about what records are being kept about them.

Working notes Most FGC services do not keep notes of their work with individual family members. For the purposes of salaries etc it is usually necessary to record times and dates of visits but it would not be usual to record content of visits unless the coordinator saw or heard something that would lead them to believe that someone is at risk of significant harm. Coordinators/advocates must make it clear to any family member that confidentiality will be maintained unless they say or do anything that the coordinator thinks will put themselves or others at risk of significant harm. It may be helpful to have a card with the project’s confidentiality statement on it which can be shown or given to families. Any concerns of this


nature must be recorded and passed on to the appropriate person. Unless it would place a worker at risk to do so it is good practice to tell the family member if you plan to breach confidentiality. However whilst in usual circumstances coordinators and advocates would not be expected to record details of their visits many workers would wish to make written notes to use as a memory aid. If notes are taken then it would be usual to shred these notes or give them to the family at the end of the FGC. Projects must have a clear non-recording policy1 in place before they adopt this way of working. Coordinators do not minute the FGC meeting and therefore the only part of the meeting which is recorded is the family plan. This should reflect the style of the family and be in their own words but it also needs to be in enough detail to be clearly understood by anyone not present at the meeting. It is also not usual for the FGC service to keep a copy of the referrer’s information for the FGC on file as this will be kept on the referrer’s file.

Letters to the meeting Sometimes family members who are unable to attend, will write a letter to be read out at the meeting. In this instance it is important to discuss with the person who has written the letter their wishes regarding the letter. For example,  if the letter is read out during the information sharing stage then the referrer and any other service providers present will be able to hear it:


A policy that explicitly states that the project will not record any family information



if this is not appropriate then the family will need to identify someone who can read it out during private family time.

It is also important to ask the author of the letter what they would like to happen to the letter after the meeting. They may wish to have it returned to them or to be passed on to another family member. If it is addressed to a specific family member then obviously it belongs to them.

Legal privilege The issue of legal privilege in an FGC has never been tested in court but has in a mediation case which confirmed that discussions in mediation are legally privileged2. In terms of the information giving stage of the meeting, information provided by family members could never be regarded as legally privileged because the social worker (and any other professional involved at this stage such as CAFCASS) has statutory duties which would always override any purported agreement about legal privilege. However in private family time coordinators could ask families if they want to treat PFT as legally privileged by discussing this with them during preparation and, if they wish, establishing it as a ground rule. However, this has the danger that it alerts people to the potential for litigation rather than keeping the meeting cooperative and consensual. Further it is not entirely clear whether the court would uphold an objection if someone had tried to use private information shared in PFT.


Re D (Conciliation: Legal Privilege) [1995] 1 FLR 932


Young people’s information prepared for the FGC In some projects young people prepare information for the FGC or write a ‘wish list’ to be presented at the meeting. Young people should be asked what they would like to happen to this information at the end of the meeting. Many young people would prefer to keep this and others would prefer to have it shredded.

Retention of records The Data Protection Act states that all individuals, including children have a general right to access personal data about themselves held in records. Therefore records (as described) must be retained after case closure. This is also important in the event of a complaint. Record retention must comply with the policy and procedures of the organisation.

Working at home Many coordinators will have to keep private information at home either because they work from home or they are working out of hours when offices are closed. In these circumstances coordinators must protect computer records with a password and keep confidential information such as referral forms in a secure, locked location and must comply with their organisation’s policy and procedures. Records of individual visits need only to include date of visit/phone call and name/contact details.


Referrer’s information It is important that referrers share with the coordinator and the family the information report that they intend to present at the meeting well in advance of the meeting. This gives the immediate family the opportunity to question or comment on it and also ensures that they know what information will be presented to their wider family at the meeting. It is not necessary for FGC projects to keep a copy of this report since it is the responsibility of the referrer to do this. Some projects will return this and other stored information back to the referrer once the case is closed to FGCs.

Statistics Most projects will keep statistics for the purposes of project evaluation and analysis. These statistics can be collected when the case is open and then anonymised and kept as long as required.

July 2008 Deanna Edwards Policy Adviser, Family Rights Group


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