Nov 28 2015

Harrow’s “Troubled Families” Programme – Looks Good, But What Price Privacy?

harrow_council_logoHarrow Council has announced it will be running the Government’s “Troubled Families” programme: the programme is a government initiative designed to support the most vulnerable families. Launched in 2011 it aims to provide “solution focussed interventions” for families who struggle with complex issues such as poor school attendance, parenting skills, mental health issues, domestic violence, crime and “worklessness.”

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? It goes on: “Harrow Council will work with 1360 vulnerable families over a five year programme until April 2020. The overall aim and approach of the programme is to support families in finding long term solutions to their issues.”

Unfortunately, that’s where the wheels fall off of the scheme. The council sneaks in, at the bottom of the page, and just off the screen on a typical display, that it has a “…need to share information and data between partner organisations…” A couple of mouse clicks later, and you find the ironically-named Privacy Policy, which says: “In order to fulfil our obligations, it is essential to share information with key partners. This is not only for the evaluation of the programme, but to ensure that services are better coordinated and focused on those families with multiple and complex needs.”

The records that the council says it might share include:

  • records relating to your social care
  • involvement with the police, courts and probation
  • aspects relating to your employment
  • antisocial behaviour
  • violence in the home
  • alcohol and substance misuse
  • educational attendance and behaviour
  • vulnerable children
  • health issues

Whilst it says any such sharing will be “necessary, proportionate and lawful”, nowhere does it say it’ll ask your permission first. Unfortunately, families seeking help under the scheme are at huge liberty to have their data flung far and wide, with only a small mention to say that “binding agreements are in place between Harrow Council and the DCLG” And we all know how good Harrow Council is at looking after you data, after they published on their website the personal details of a resident who complained about a local pub.

Whilst the idea behind the scheme is fantastic, and should be applauded, it would only be appropriate that the council seek permission before spreading your personal information – and whilst they mention a “legal agreement” they are refusing to discuss it with iharrow.



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  1. sonoo malkani

    On the face of it,sounds like a good idea but BUILDING SAFEGUARDS into the whole strategy,particularly as data will be widely shared with a number of allied partners,is of PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE.Transparency and accountability is always welcome but CONFIDENTIALITY in such personal data sharing must be respected.

  2. red mirror

    yes paul i agree with your comments and lets hope that harrow council can differentiate between lawful and legal it all smells of big brother to me i personally wouldn’t trust harrow council to put together a cheese sandwich let alone the future of disturbed vulnerable people I WORKED FOR THEM AND WHEN I TRIED TO HELP A VULNERABLE EMPLOYEE I WAS SACKED DUH? THANKS FOR THE PLATFORM PAUL KEEP IT UP MATE GOD BLESS YOU

  3. sonoo malkani

    How come you did not seek help from HEC or some other official organisation for “unfair dismissal?” if the Council honestly had the nerve to do that!

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