There is statutory guidance on interagency cooperation in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland, the relevant guidance is Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011. The Children First guidance devotes Chapter 4 to Interagency Cooperation. At Section 4.3: Benefits of Interagency Cooperation and Exchange of Information in Relation to Child Protection and Welfare, the following two paragraphs outline the positives of interagency cooperation and information sharing:
4.3.1 Effective interagency cooperation has a number of benefits, including:
- ensuring provision of a comprehensive response to all concerns about children. This includes the pooling of resources and skills at all stages of intervention, from initial enquiry to assessment and case management, including early identification and prevention;
- avoiding gaps in the service response, especially in cases where information might otherwise remain concealed or unknown;
- providing mutual support for professionals in complex cases.
4.3.2 The effectiveness and usefulness of interagency and inter-professional cooperation and coordination is influenced by certain conditions that should be addressed specifically in training programmes.
These conditions include:
- dissemination on a regular basis of procedures, guidelines and policies; clear contractual arrangements between statutory and non-statutory bodies;
- an understanding and acceptance by all professionals working with children of their responsibilities and roles in the promotion of child welfare;
- mutual trust in the sharing of information;
- agreement on common goals with regard to a child’s safety and welfare;
- willingness of professionals to respect the contributions made by each other, irrespective of status and position within agencies and organisations.
- awareness of the potential for inter-professional tensions, defensiveness, prejudices, rivalries and polarity of views, which may, from time to time, prevent the needs of children from taking precedence. (Page 18).
The Catholic Church on the island of Ireland is expected to embrace best practice standards in child safeguarding, including those on information management, information sharing and interagency cooperation as it functions.