Information sharing

Families must have confidence about how and when any information sharing takes place to support a child or young person’s wellbeing.

Organisations must handle, store, process and share personal information in line with existing laws and guidance. These include data protection, confidentiality, human rights. People working with children, young people and their families must work in partnership with them when considering and sharing information necessary to promote, support or safeguard a child or young person's wellbeing.

In most circumstances, the child or young person and parents will know what information is being shared, with whom and for what purpose, and their views will be taken into account. This may not happen in exceptional cases, such as where there is a concern for a child’s safety.

Information Sharing Bill

The Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill was introduced in June 2017. It aims to bring clarity and consistency to sharing information for the named person service and child’s plan.

The Bill's objective is to give families, practitioners and the wider public greater confidence in how the safeguards to information sharing will operate in relation to the named person service and provision of a child’s plan, for example  human rights, data protection and confidentiality.

What the Bill does:

  • the Bill introduces a duty to consider whether information sharing with or by the clear point of contact could support the wellbeing of a child or young person
  • when a child’s wellbeing could be supported by information sharing, the Bill introduces a further duty to consider whether doing so would be in accordance with relevant law (including law in relation to human rights, data protection and confidentiality)
  • subject to the above conditions, the Bill then provides for a power to share information
  • the Bill requires Scottish Ministers to issue a binding Code of Practice about sharing information

The Bill responds to a Supreme Court ruling in 2016. The Supreme Court found that providing a named person for every child to promote and safeguard their wellbeing was ‘unquestionably legitimate and benign’. It ruled that changes are required to the information sharing provisions in Part 4 of the Act to make those provisions compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  

The Deputy First Minister led engagement on information sharing for the named person service and child’s plan, listening to 250 groups, including around 700 young people, parents and carers, practitioners, professionals and leaders from education, health, local authorities, police, faith communities, unions and charities.

Information sharing: code of practice

The Bill requires Scottish Ministers to issue a code of practice that will apply when sharing information by or with  the named person service and in relation to a child’s plan.

The code will require the services that support children and young people and their families, such as the NHS, local authorities and the third sector, to follow the code helping them to ensure that relevant safeguards are considered and applied when sharing information in relation to the named person service and child’s plan. 

A draft code is being prepared by the independently chaired GIRFEC Practice Development Panel.

Bill progress and next steps

You can follow the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill progress on the Scottish Parliament website.

The Bill will be followed by a consultation on revised statutory guidance and the code of practice about information sharing for the named person service and child's plan.