Scottish Government working with experts to amend legislation.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has begun talks with key public sector leaders and charities to ensure the successful introduction of the named person service to support children and families across Scotland.
Following the UK Supreme Court’s ruling on a challenge to the policy this week, the Scottish Government has pledged to amend the legislation to provide clarity around the information-sharing provisions of the Children and Young People Act.
On Thursday, Mr Swinney confirmed the Scottish Government remained committed to the named person policy and would start work immediately so the necessary legislative amendments could be made.
Mr Swinney said:
“Our aim has always been for the named person to provide timely support for children and families. We have always said that as part of that role, we expect that any sharing of personal information should be proportionate and relevant.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling makes clear that while the principle of providing a named person for each child does not breach human rights, we need to do further work to ensure those performing the role have greater clarity about sharing information, as required by the Court.
“I have already spoken directly with senior figures from the public and third sectors including NHS, local authorities and Police Scotland to discuss our next steps. We will continue these discussions, including with professional bodies, to use the expertise of those working directly with children and families as we move forward with our plans.
“Through our widely-supported approach to early intervention and getting it right for every child, developed over the last decade, and through the named person service specifically, we aim to place the needs of children at the heart of public services. It is vital that we take all effective steps to support the wellbeing of our children in Scotland. I look forward to working with our stakeholders so we can roll out this vital service across Scotland at the earliest possible date.
“As I have made clear, the Government remains absolutely committed to the named person service so we can get it right for every child and ensure families get the right support when they need it.”
The full Supreme Court judgment can be found here: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2015-0216.html
Mr Swinney joined a conference call following Thursday’s ruling which included:
- Perth and Kinross Council
- NHS Dumfries and Galloway
- Highland Council
- Children in Scotland
- National Parent Forum Scotland
- Police Scotland
- Care Inspectorate
- Education Scotland
- Information Commissioner Office
- Social Work Scotland
- Health Scotland
While further discussions are planned, the following information has been sent from the Scottish Government to local authorities and health boards:
What does it mean for information sharing?
The judgment on information sharing relates to the information sharing provisions that were intended to come into force under the 2014 Act, not to current practice under GIRFEC policy.
Any sharing of personal information that takes place now or in the future must be done in accordance with the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act.
It continues to be legitimate for personal information and sensitive personal information to be shared where the conditions set out in the Data Protection Act are met.
Public authorities will want to assure themselves that policy and practice continues to be in line with relevant legislation.
What does it mean for those areas running or planning a “named person” service?
The judgment found that the principle of the named person was compatible with EU and human rights law.
A local authority or health board can (start or continue to) nominate a person as the “named person” for a particular child, and to arrange for that person to be responsible within the organisation for the provision or coordination of services to that child, and to be a single point of contact in relation to that child.
Local authorities and health boards should take care to reiterate the voluntary nature of any advice, information, support or help offered by the “named person”.
Where there is a “named person” in place, it continues to be appropriate for any person or organisation to share information with the “named person” where the conditions set out in the Data Protection Act are met and the sharing is done compatibly with the Human Rights Act.
The Children and Young People Act 2014 was passed with cross-party support and not a single vote against, by 103 votes to zero, in the Scottish Parliament. The policy was also supported by a majority of MSPs across parties during a parliamentary vote in June.
Among the range of non-government supporters of the named person policy are signatories to the attached letter, published on the Aberlour website.
More information about the named person service can be found here: www.gov.scot/girfec
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