Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS) takes confidentiality very seriously. It is the very ethos of the organisation, being a fundamental part of creating a relationship of trust between the service users and staff and volunteers, as well as maintaining good practice. All members of staff, volunteers and trustees must maintain strict confidentiality regarding any information about anyone connected to SARSAS. This means that no information should be shared with a third party outside SARSAS without written authorisation by the relevant person (except in circumstances set out below).
When service users use only the helpline or provide only minimum details about themselves, SARSAS does not have sufficient information to break confidentiality, regardless of the circumstances.
If sufficient details are held on a service user, it is rare to have a situation where it is necessary or ethical to break confidentiality. However, there may be exceptions when it is necessary to do so. These are as follows:
- When a child or adult adult with care and support needs it is at risk of harm through abuse or neglect (see Child Safeguarding Policy and Safeguarding Adults Policy)
- When there is a serious risk of harm to the service user* or others
- When there is a court order or other legal requirements.
The decision on whether to break confidentiality will be decided on a case by case basis and always in conjunction with the Director, or in their absence the designated Safeguarding Lead.
*Serious risk to a service user may include self-harm, which SARSAS recognises as a coping strategy that some people employ to cope with life experiences including, but not exclusively, rape and sexual violence. When it becomes apparent that a service user is employing this coping strategy (cutting, burning, inserting objects etc) we will work non-judgementally and openly with this information as appropriate. If there are concerns about an individual’s safety in relation to their self-harm, we will work collaboratively with the service user to decide what (if any) action to take, within the bounds of this policy. In very rare situations of extreme risk, it may be considered necessary to take action without the express consent of the individual, in which case, SARSAS would keep the service user informed and included, and offer support throughout the process.