Confidentiality & Data Protection Summary

Website Descriptor

RightLines is for you if you are between 13 and 35 and you self harm already or feel you might self harm and you want to understand why, and cope with it, or stop.

RightLines View on Self Harm

RightLines accepts that a great many people of all ages self harm.

We understand that it begins feeling as a release, a comfort, a help. We appreciate that the feelings it releases can become addictive and harder to achieve.

RightLines includes cutting, burning, insertion, picking pulling and banging, and poison (eg drinking bleach, swallowing batteries)  as ways to self harm, we do not include overdosing on meds, eating disorders and over the top use of drugs and alcohol.  Other services work in these fields.

RightLines does not link self harm and suicide.

Images Policy

RightLines will exclude all and any images showing acts of self harm before during or after.

RightLines reserves the right to make this judgement and all decisions are final. RightLines will use images of people sparingly and sensitively taking due regard of equality and diversity, obligations and policies.  Users of RightLines may upload images subject to these rules.  Publication is at the discretion of RightLines.

Internet / Social Media Policy

RightLines operates on the web. Rightlines operates websites and social media accounts which are portals to real time services.

Information on Message Handling

All messages will be responded to within 24 hours of receipt during the pilot period.  With paid staff in place in due course the response time would be shortened.

It cannot be guaranteed that the same individual in RightLines will handle all the responses to one individual.  Training of responders should ensure a consistent approach from the service.

Safe and timely notification of replies to provided email addresses cannot be guaranteed.

Users are asked to provide their age, gender and location so the service can give the most appropriate response.  Withholding this information does not preclude an individual from using the service.

See section on privacy for information on storage and retention of this information.

Messages and responses are saved for 90 days to ensure continuity and understanding.  Users may request immediate deletion at any time and are able to do this for themselves.

Only numerical data: number of messages and responses over time will be stored, with no detail of message content.

Acceptable and unacceptable use of service

RightLines understands that young people who feel the urge to self harm are under a lot of pressure.  RightLines therefore tolerates swearing and ‘bad language’ to a degree that might not be acceptable in, for example schools, college or work places.  However personal abuse directed at RightLines personnel will not be tolerated and the young person will be asked to stop this.  If they are unable to, reluctantly, the RightLines offer of service will be withdrawn from them.

RightLines will moderate use of the website and social media platforms and delete or refuse any material that glorifies self harm, including all images, and any material that appears to encourage and instruct others to harm themselves.

Any participant who seems to develop a dependency or affection for RightLines personnel will be worked with one to one to help them understand this and work through it.


Confidentiality – Is the undertaking between the service and the user that identifying details of the contact will not be disclosed outside of the team delivering the service and the key personnel of RightLines involved with the helpline service.  Conversations are confidential between the user and the service, not the individual worker. It is important that RightLines is felt by users to be a safe space in which to talk, and to know that their confidentiality will not be breached without their knowledge and consent except in specific and dangerous situations, as described below.

Statistical information is recorded to demonstrate the number of contacts, the approximate geographical location and the age and gender of callers.  The topics discussed are also noted so that funders and supporters of the service can be informed of the impact of their support.

Definition of Harm

To guide those implementing these policies and procedures we take significant harm as it is defined as the threshold criteria under section 31(2) of the Children Act 1989.  Whilst there is no statutory definition of significant harm the meaning in case law has developed to mean enough to justify state intervention.

In the Act ‘Harm’ is defined as

•       Ill treatment

•       The impairment of physical or mental health (including that suffered from seeing or hearing another person suffer ill treatment)

•       The impairment of physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development (including that suffered from seeing or hearing another person suffer ill treatment)

Ill treatment includes sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and psychological abuse.

A child is defined as someone below the age of puberty, in the UK the average age for girls is 11, the entry age for access to the Rightlines is 13, however emotional maturity is different again and in each situation helpline workers will follow the course of action judged to be most likely to keep the child/young person safe. A young person is defined as someone under 18.

RightLines will also use the above definition of harm in relation to the situation described as affecting any user of any age.

The welfare, safety and wellbeing of any caller of any age is always the paramount concern of RightLines.

Breaking Confidentiality

Confidentiality will only be broken in exceptional circumstances.  The decision to break confidentiality is taken by the senior workers in consultation with the worker working with the user. 

Confidentiality will only be broken without the consent of the user:

•       When RightLines understands / is told by a person that they have seriously harmed, or intend to seriously harm imminently a third party and put that person’s life in danger, or know of another individual who they believe has this intent, then confidentiality would also be breached without consent, as above.

•       When RightLines understands / is told that an act of self-harm has escalated so that the person realises they have gone too far and their life is in danger, then confidentiality would be breached without consent, as above.

•       When RightLines understands / is told that a person is seriously suicidal and has a plan and is undertaking it NOW – then RightLines will breach confidentiality without consent if the phone number can be accessed by the telephony provider and emergency services be notified.

•       When a caller informs RightLines of an impending act of terrorism.

In all cases the decider is that there is risk of significant harm to an individual. See the definition of ‘harm’ above.