Access to information and information sharing in Anchor work
Anchor work offers added value to clients, promoting the wellbeing of adolescents. It is based on voluntary participation and the adolescent’s consent, as regards information exchange among authorities. While every operator performs their own role within the relevant legislative framework, it is useful for them to be aware of the legislation applicable to other operators.
When carrying out Anchor work, operators comply with the legislation applicable to their field and follow the measures required by legislation. In other words, Anchor work involves both consent-based early support offered to the child/adolescent (e.g. youth worker services) and binding statutory measures such as those related to a criminal procedure involving an adolescent (e.g. a criminal investigation carried out by the police or a service need assessment performed by a social worker). It is important that everyone on the team has an idea of the relevant legislation and the related opportunities and limitations.
It should be kept in mind that Anchor work is generally based on voluntary participation. It provides added value to the client by enabling them to meet various professionals at the same time, which makes handling the client’s case smoother and facilitates progress. Although operations are voluntary, any legislation related to information exchange must be taken into account.
This section discusses legislation relevant to Anchor work. It also includes education-related legislation dealing with information exchange.
Table 1. Legislation related to multi-professional collaboration promoting the wellbeing of adolescents and preventing crime through Anchor work
|The police||The duty of the police is to prevent crime in collaboration with other authorities and with communities and residents.||The Police Act (872/2011), chapter 1, section 1|
|Social services||The authorities must collaborate to promote the wellbeing of children and adolescents and participate in multi-professional collaboration, where requested.||Social Welfare Act (1301/2014),
chapter 1, section 5; chapter 2, section 9; chapter 4, section 41
|Youth services||The purpose is to reach adolescents in need of support and to help them receive the necessary services and other support, as well as promote their wellbeing||Youth Act (1285/2016)
chapter 3, sections 9–10; chapter 4, section 13
|Health services||The various functions of a municipality must work together to promote health and wellbeing.||Health Care Act (1326/2010), chapter 2, section 12|
Information exchange in Anchor work
In Anchor work, information exchange among operators is an important way of promoting the wellbeing of adolescents and preventing crime. The exchange of information helps, in part, to create an overview of the adolescent’s situation and identify aspects that would remain unnoticed if relying on the information of a single occupational group only. The exchange of information within the Anchor team is governed by the adolescent’s right to self-determination and best interest, as well as the professionals’ secrecy obligation. It is based on legislation applicable to the adolescent’s information and the operation of professionals (Table 2).
The exchange of information means disclosing or receiving client information between professionals. Information concerning the adolescent is covered by privacy protection. However, the adolescent can give their consent for the exchange of information. In the absence of such consent, information exchange among professionals is legitimate only if it is authorised by law. The scope of information exchange in Anchor work depends on the necessity of the information exchanged, the measures required and an assessment of the best ways to support the adolescent and where further work with the adolescent will take place. The exchange of information involves processing the information carefully according to the provisions and guidelines of the relevant administrative branch.
The authorities have the obligation to observe secrecy in matters concerning the adolescent. Confidential matters include reports of crime, accounts concerning the prevention of crime, client information in social services, patient health information and information on the adolescent in outreach work. Notwithstanding confidentiality, authorities are still under the obligation to report any need for child welfare to social welfare services, as well as specific cases of suspected crime to the police.
The adolescent’s consent is requested for information exchange within the Anchor team. The professionals can then exchange necessary information concerning the adolescent if required to secure the adolescent’s best interests and within the scope required to satisfy these best interests. If the topic of the meeting is a matter that can be discussed without the adolescent’s consent, the professionals can disclose information as specified by the applicable legislation. For example, the adolescent’s consent is not needed to exchange information in connection with a child welfare report or, if specific conditions are met, to assess the threat of violence.
Aspects to consider in information exchange
Concerning the information exchanged:
- Type (e.g. patient information – Act on the Status and Rights of Patients)
- Disclosure (e.g. the right to disclose information)
- Reception (e.g. the recipient’s right to process information)
- Context of the information (e.g. specific crime, threat, child welfare case)
- Purpose of use (e.g. preventing crime, assessing the need for service)
- Discretionary nature (e.g. restriction of privacy in relation to the purpose)
- Scope of processing (e.g. limited disclosure of information)
- Processing (e.g. storage location, data protection)
Further information about legislation
To carry out their work, each operator must be familiar with the legislation in their own sector concerning collaboration and information exchange. In addition to the previously mentioned legislation, the following table provides information about legislation related to information disclosure and the right to obtain information in Anchor work.
Table 2. Legislation concerning the disclosure of information and the right to obtain information in Anchor work
The authorities have the obligation to observe secrecy in matters concerning a specific adolescent.
Confidential matters include reports of crime, accounts concerning the prevention of crime, client information in social services, patient health information and information on the adolescent in outreach work.
Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), chapter 1, section 1; chapter 5 section 20, chapter 6, sections 23–24
Act on the Status and Rights of Social Welfare Clients (812/2000), chapter 3, sections 14–15
Act on Health Care Professionals (559/1994), chapter 3, section 17
Police Act (872/2011), chapter 7, section 1
Youth Act (1285/2016), chapter 3, section 12
|All||Notwithstanding confidentiality, authorities are still under the obligation to report any need for child welfare to social welfare services, as well as specific cases of suspected crime to the police.||
Child Welfare Act (417/2007), chapter 5, section 25
Criminal Code of Finland 29/1889, chapter 15, section 10
The police have the right to access confidential information held by the authorities and corporations if necessary for the completion of police duties and provided that there is no specific prohibition that would prevent the disclosure of such information as evidence or to the police.
The secrecy obligation does not prevent the disclosure of information to an authority/public corporation if such an authority or public corporation needs to obtain the information in order to complete its statutory task.
|Police Act (872/2011), chapter 4, sections 2–3; chapter 7, sections 1–2|
The party providing social services has the right to disclose information to an authority with the client’s consent or if such disclosure is necessary in view of the child’s interest or the matter concerns serious crime or the assessment of the threat of violence.
Other authorities have the obligation to disclose essential information related to a social welfare client relationship if necessary for the completion of a statutory task.
|Act on the Status and Rights of Social Welfare Clients (812/2000), chapter 3, sections 16–19 and chapter 4, section 20|
|Youth services||Youth services may only disclose information with the consent of the adolescent/parent, except if assessing the threat of violence or preventing a threatening act.||Youth Act (1285/2016), chapter 3, sections 11–12; chapter 6, section 28; chapter 4, section 14|
|Health services||Health services can participate in the exchange of information with the adolescent’s consent or if
the case involves assessing the threat of violence or if information exchange is justified by a specific regulation in law.
|Act on the Status and Rights of Patients 784/1992, chapter 4, section 13|