The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidance setting out a framework for organisations that need to share personal data on individuals.

Publication of the Framework Code of Practice for Sharing Personal Information comes after a period of public consultation in August and Sepetember.

The ICO is encouraging organisations to use the framework to produce their own codes of practice and ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act.

The framework sets out how organisations can set up their own arrangements, and helps them to decide when to share information and what information to share, as well as highlighting the consequences of sharing.

Issues covered include security, accuracy of information and retention periods that organisations need to consider when sharing personal information with other organisations or internally.

Iain Bourne, head of data protection projects at the ICO, said sensible information sharing had "clear benefits". But he warned there were also risks to sharing personal information, "especially as technology makes it easier to store large amounts of sensitive information about people’s private lives.”

In recent months data sharing between public bodies has been hotly debated, after the government gave the police access to data on millions of individuals’ car journeys gathered by congestion charging cameras. Prime minister Gordon Brown’s inclusion of new data sharing powers in three planned government bills also raised concerns.