Publication - FOI/EIR release

Independent scrutiny of inter-agency discussions: FOI release

Published: 6 Mar 2019

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
6 Mar 2019
Independent scrutiny of inter-agency discussions: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/201900000117
Date received: 21 Jan 2019
Date responded: 18 Feb 2019
Information requested

 

1. Please advise the legislation that informs the duty of the police and social workers who when presented with evidence that either the other parent, social worker, Police Officer or civilian has been mis-truthful (perverted the course of justice) when a court case was current, but more importantly now the individual been acquitted by the court proving previous findings of fact have been based on malicious falsehoods?

2. Is it an offence for individual the (innocent) person to report false reporting or other criminal offences to social workers and including Police Scotland, The Crown and Procurator Fiscal’s Office or any other agency. If so what is the offence and please provide me with the relevant legislation showing this offence in law and include any/all Scottish Government policy? 

3. As this is an inter-agency collaboration what form of independent scrutiny and oversight of all decisions made within an inter-agency discussion and subsequent investigations is there is place?


 

Response

 


Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) which we received in December 2018. I would like to apologies on behalf of the Scottish Government for not responding to your original email as a freedom of information. After reviewing your original correspondence as requested in your email dated the 21 January 2019 to the Scottish Government, this letter is our official response to your FOI request entitled: 'Independent Scrutiny of Inter Agency Discussions'.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested as we are not responsible for the subject matters you raise or the information you have requested is publically available. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. In the first instance, West Lothian Council, Police Scotland or the Crown and Procurator Fiscal’s Office may be able to help you with your request. You may wish to contact them as follows:
West Lothian Council: https://www.westlothian.gov.uk/contactus
Police Scotland: http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/
The Crown and Procurator Fiscal’s Office: http://www.copfs.gov.uk/contact-us


In answer to your request, we have provided a factual response and information below on lines of inquiry you may wish to pursue to seek a resolution to your concerns.

Question 1: Please advise the legislation that informs the duty of the police and social workers who when presented with evidence that either the other parent, social worker, Police Officer or civilian has been mis-truthful (perverted the course of justice) when a court case was current, but more importantly now the individual been acquitted by the court proving previous findings of fact have been based on malicious falsehoods?

Question 2: Is it an offence for individual the (innocent) person to report false reporting or other criminal offences to social workers and including Police Scotland, The Crown and Procurator Fiscal’s Office or any other agency. If so what is the offence and please provide me with the relevant  legislation showing this offence in law and include any/all Scottish Government policy?

Both social service employers and workers must adhere to the Scottish Social Services Council Codes of Practice. On page 31 of the Scottish Government National Child Protection Guidance for Scotland (2014) the statutory duties of each agency is outlined and I have included links to the legislation which underpins the duties of each agency to protect children:
·Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012
·Children (Scotland) Act 1995
·Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968
·Children‟s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011
·Local Government in Scotland Act 2003
·The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007
·Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) 2004
·Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
·Data Protection Act 1998
·Data Protection Act 2018

In addition West Lothian Child Protection Committee website has guidance on ‘Interagency Child Protection Procedures Edinburgh and Lothian’s’ which you might find helpful.

The Scottish Government does not offer guidance to the courts on how they go about their business. That would be an infringement of the independence of the courts, which the Scottish Ministers and Parliament are obliged, by law, to uphold. In the law of Scotland, perjury is not committed merely by lying in court: rather, it is the making of false statements under oath, the statements having to be competent evidence in the case in which they were made and material to the subject of the case or investigation. As with other crimes, it must be established beyond reasonable doubt, and according to corroborated evidence. If you have evidence of the possible commission of perjury, you should contact the police.

Decisions on what prosecutions to pursue are not a matter for the Scottish Ministers. Section 48(5) of the Scotland Act 1998 provides that they are for the Lord Advocate to make independent of any other person.
While there is some legislation that relates to perjury, in practice perjury is always dealt with at common law (which means in keeping with judicial decisions in previous cases). This is not a matter for the Scottish Government. There may be guidance available within the court system, but on that matter you should seek any information that might be available from the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service.

You may find information about doing so at: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/about-the-scottish-courtservice/contact-us/freedom-of-information.

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Services have distinct procedures and process which apply in court and can be found on their website: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/.

If you have concerns regarding the Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service, their complaints procedure can be found at http://www.copfs.gov.uk/about-us/comments-complaints .

If the complaint is against the judicial office holder, the Judicial Office for Scotland has a complaints procedure on its website at: http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/15/0/Complaints.


If you have concerns around the handling of your case or disagree with the decisions made you should contact West Lothian Council to raise a complaint at: https://www.westlothian.gov.uk/complaints or you can request information through freedom of information request at: https://www.westlothian.gov.uk/freedom-of-information

If you are not satisfied with the local authority’s response to your concerns, after following the complaints process, you can raise a complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), Freepost EH641, Edinburgh, EH3 0BR (telephone: 0800 377 7330, www.spso.org.uk/contact-us).

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), as the regulator of the social services workforce in Scotland, can investigate allegations of misconduct by registered social service workers. However, the SSSC will expect that employers' procedures have been completed before an investigation is undertaken. Full details of how the SSSC deals with complaints is available on the their website www.sssc.uk.com.

If you would like to raise a complaint with Police Scotland you can find out about their complaints procedure on their website at: http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/policescotland/complaintsaboutthe-police/

In the event that once you have received a response to your complaint from Police Scotland, you remain dissatisfied, it will be open to you to refer the matter to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) who has responsibility to provide independent scrutiny of the way the police respond to complaints from the public. You can contact the PIRC either via their website at www.pirc.scot/ or by telephone on 0808 178 5577.

They can also be contacted at enquiries@pirc.gsi.gov.uk or in writing to

PIRC,

Hamilton House,

Hamilton Business Park,

Caird Park,

Hamilton,

ML3 0QA.

PIRC will ask you to complete a form, giving details of your complaint and about why you are unhappy with the way the police handled it. Further information about the police complaints process can be found in the leaflet, "A guide for complaints about the police.” This can be accessed on the Scottish Government website via the link below: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/police-fire-escue/policescotland/thecomplaintsaboutthepoliceleaflet.


Question 3: As this is an inter-agency collaboration what form of independent scrutiny and oversight of all decisions made within an inter-agency discussion and subsequent investigations is there is place?

An Inter-agency referral discussion (IRD) is the first stage in the process of joint information sharing, assessment and decision-making about a child whose well-being and safety is potentially at risk. It is critical that information is shared between social work services, police, health services and all other key services as appropriate. The organisations that participate in IRDs are subject to their own statutory duties. The Scottish Government National Child Protection Guidance for Scotland ( 2014) outlines each agencies duties to protect as set out in legislation ( page 31- 34) and their responsibilities for the protection of children ( page 49-63). In addition West Lothian Child Protection Committee website has guidance on ‘Interagency Child Protection Procedures Edinburgh and Lothians’ which you might find helpful.

Within local authorities, Chief Officers are individually and collectively responsible for the leadership, direction and scrutiny of their respective child protection services and their Child Protection Committees (CPC). CPCs have a responsibility to identify and promote good, evidence-based policy and practice developments, address issues of poor policy and practice, and encourage learning from effective policy and practice developments. They work in partnership with their respective Chief Officers‟ Groups and the Scottish Government to take forward child protection policy and practice across Scotland. As per the National Child Protection Guidance 2014: “Chief Officers’ Groups’ which include ‘the local Police Commanders and Chief Executives of Health Boards and Local Authorities are responsible for ensuring that their agencies, individually and collectively, work to protect children and young people as effectively as possible. They also have responsibility for maximising the involvement of those agencies not under their direct control, including the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the third sector. Chief Officers across Scotland are individually and collectively responsible for the leadership, direction and scrutiny of their respective child protection services and their Child Protection Committees. Chief Officers are responsible for overseeing the commissioning of all child protection services and are accountable for this work and its effectiveness. They are individually responsible for promoting child protection across all areas of their individual services and agencies, thus ensuring a corporate approach.” ( National Guidance, 37).

The Scottish Government guidance Children and Young People: Child Protection Committees ( 2005) provides further information on the role of CPCs and Chief officers. We recently updated this guidance and it will be published shortly on: https://www.gov.scot/.

In extreme cases were a child or young person have been significantly harmed the first course of action is for the child protection committee to conduct an initial case review and then determine whether the criteria for a Significant case review has been met. If the criteria has been meet the local CPC will work with the relevant agencies involved to carry out an SCR. The SCR is carried out to understand what happened in a specific cases were a child or young person has been significantly harmed and embed learning back into the system. The National Guidance for Child Protection Committees on Conducting a Significant Case Review ( 2015) provides more information on SCRs. We recently updated this guidance and it will be published shortly on: https://www.gov.scot/.

 

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