This relates to Nightline’s collection and/or disclosure of a caller’s personal information. This confidentiality refers to the caller’s relationship with Nightline and not the volunteer who took the call. Thus, the policy here will refer to when to disclose information to sources outside of Nightline. Confidentiality is one of the 5 Pillars of Nightline and those using our service expect that what they share will not be spread outside the organisation.
3.9.1 Breaking confidentiality
Whenever QUB Nightline need to break confidentiality, we will generally inform the caller of our obligation to do this. However, it may not always be appropriate to make the caller aware of this if there is a risk it could lead them or another to harm. In these circumstances we may elect not to inform them.
Where practical, the President of QUB Nightline will be informed of the need to break confidentiality as soon as possible and disclose this information to the relevant third party themselves. However, this will not always be possible and volunteers on shift are trained to break confidentiality when required and disclose information to the relevant parties.
The President should also offer support to those breaking confidentiality, including a debrief by QUB counselling if requested.
3.9.2 When can confidentiality be broken
Confidentiality can be broken due to the following subjects: crime, terrorism, suicide, court order, child abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual).
If a caller shares any information relating to an arrestable offence that has been committed, then QUB Nightline will report this information to the police. This follows responsibilities under the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967.
Nightline will report any information relating to acts of terrorism to the police. Terrorism involves or causes:
- Serious violence against a person
- Serious damage to a property
- Threat to a person’s life
- A serious risk to the health and safety of the public
- Serious interference or disruption to an electronic system
Please see section 3.6 Suicide above for full details.
3.9.6 Court Order
If presented with a court order to disclose details of a specific call, QUB Nightline will comply and provide the requested information to the authorities
3.9.7 Child Abuse (Emotional, Physical or Sexual)
If a caller discloses any information that leads the volunteer to believe that a child is at risk of harm, QUB Nightline will report this information to the relevant authority (NSPCC).
If the risk of harm to the child is imminent, then QUB Nightline will immediately contact the police and pass on any relevant details that have been disclosed by the caller.
3.9.8 Record Keeping
QUB Nightline collected anonymised call data for the purposes of improving and tracking the usage of the service. This includes:
- The time the call started
- The date
- The duration of the call
- A summary of the issues raised
All data is anonymised, and personal data removed. Call records are never so detailed as to allow a caller to be identified from it.
If a volunteer believes a caller is either: in the process of ending their life, going to end their life in the imminent future or actively thinking about taking their own life they will clarify the caller’s intentions. If the caller confirms any of the above scenarios, the volunteer MUST offer to ring the emergency services for the caller (999).
If the caller agrees:
- Volunteers will keep talking and reassuring the caller and ask for relevant information, specifically location.
- Another volunteer on shift will call 999.
- Volunteers will keep the caller on the line until the emergency services arrive at the scenes – the volunteer may need to stay on the line indefinitely if the caller is not responding.
- The volunteer will speak to the emergency services over the phone should the caller lose consciousness in order to pass on any information that may be relevant to them.
If the caller denies the help of the emergency services, volunteers are not expected to ask for this information or pressure the caller for this information. HOWEVER, if the caller provides enough information for the volunteer to know their current location (e.g., location of bridge/ address of where they are) then we deem this to be IMPLICIT CONSENT to call the emergency services even if this is against their wishes.
If the caller does not want the volunteer to ring the emergency services and the caller hasn’t given enough information to do so, the volunteer will continue the conversation. It may be appropriate for the volunteer to ask the caller again later in the call if they would like you to contact the emergency services in case the caller has changed their mind.
Other points regarding suicide:
- Nightline has no legal obligation to report a suicide attempt unless it is an act of terrorism.
- Our service is anonymous, so we do not have any useful information to give the emergency services unless the caller has provided their location.
- In the case where the volunteer has called the emergency services against your caller’s wishes (based on implicit consent- mentioned above), letting the caller know or not that the services are on their way is at the volunteer’s discretion.