GIRFEC Practice Development Panel minutes: May 2018

Minutes from the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) Practice Development Panel meeting on 23 May 2018.

Attendees and apologies

  • Joanna Murphy, National Parent Forum Scotland
  • Lorna Greene, Royal College of Nursing
  • Susan Quinn, Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Eddie Docherty, Scottish Executive Nursing Directors
  • Annette Holliday, Unite/Community Practitioners and Health Visiting Association
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Chris Creegan, Scottish Commission for Learning Disability
  • Peter Hessett, Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators in Scotland
  • Ann Houston, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Mike Burns, Social Work Scotland
  • Sally-Ann Kelly, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Jennifer King, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Professor Paul Martin, University of West Scotland
  • Joy Atterbury, Head of Litigation, Central Legal Office in place of Norma Shippin
  • Michael Chalmers, Director For Children and Families, Scottish Government


  • Maureen Falconer, Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Norman Conway, Police Scotland
  • Norma Shippin, Central Legal Office

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed members and asked that they were satisfied with the minutes from the last meeting. Susan Quinn asked for her comments which were taken back to the Legal Focus Group from last meeting to be captured more explicitly in the minutes.

ACTION: Secretariat to add more details of the contribution made by Susan Quinn on the draft Code in the minutes of the last Panel meeting.

Code of Practice for Information Sharing – Drafting and Analysis

The Chair provided an update on progress to date. He outlined that good progress has been made in developing a draft Code. He confirmed that the Panel are clear that the Code of Practice is aimed at data controllers and service providers but needs to be accessible to all audiences. He noted observations that previous versions of the draft Code of Practice appeared to mainly restate the respective laws rather than providing the data controllers with meaningful instructions as to how to fulfil their duties under the Information Sharing Bill. The Panel agreed in order to operate under the proposed legislation that data controllers will need clear instructions. They understood it is important that complementary guidance is also provided to the front line practitioner. Panel members agreed that more work will be done to support and engage with these professionals.

The Chair conveyed Ms Falconer’s suggestion that the Code needs to provide assistance on what type of information might come within this duty and if the consideration outcome is that it should be shared, how this might be facilitated. The Legal Focus Group will address these comments.

The Chair informed that he would ask a smaller group of Panel members to be available to develop the draft Code along with the legal group ahead of engagement with stakeholders. He welcomed suggestions from members on engagement opportunities and set out that engagement will begin in full with a more developed version of the draft Code.

The Chair informed the Panel that he will provide an update on progress and developments made on the draft Code of Practice to the Deputy First Minister in early June.

The Chair invited members to join groups with officials at each table for constructive feedback on the current draft Code. Members provided suggestions on drafting structure, accessible language and including or removing proposed content.

There was general consensus from the Panel that the draft Code had become more accessible. Members also suggested that reordering of some sections within the Code would allow readers to identify the key information straight away. For example members agreed that sections on UNCHR and the statutory functions of a Named Person, which have been articulated more clearly, should be brought to the beginning of the Code.

Members were pleased to see clearer information on sharing with and without consent . Members provided further suggestions on how the language could be made more accessible to the reader. Members discussed the inclusion, or not, of case examples and flow charts in the Code, or in guidance and other supporting materials. Members recommended the use of hyperlinks within the Code which would then direct readers to the relevant documents such as supporting materials. Both will be explored further in the next iteration of the draft Code.

Some members suggested that providing more focus on information sharing in the context of a child or young person’s wellbeing, rather than where there is a risk of significant harm, would be helpful given the functions of the Named Person service are to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of a child.

Members asked if the updated draft Code could be circulated earlier to allow time to engage with their stakeholders and provide feedback.

The Chair thanked members for their constructive contributions and assured that a updated draft Code would reflect their comments and be circulated as soon as practicably possible.

ACTION: Legal officials to consider members comments and amend the draft Code appropriately. Updated draft to be circulated for further comments ahead of next Panel meeting.

Panel Surgery

The Chair offered Panel members with individual meetings with himself and officials if they had additional feedback or comments on the draft Code which may not have been captured or reflected during the meeting.

ACTION: Members to request individual meetings to be set up with the Chair and officials, if required.

Stakeholder Engagement Update

The Chair highlighted to Members that a public petition has been lodged to establish an inquiry into the human rights impact of GIRFEC policy and data processing. In light of this, the Chair suggested that proactive communications would be more effective later in the process.

The Chair updated the Panel on Jennifer King’s recent engagement with the Scottish Guidance Association (SGA) on 19 May and reflected that guidance teachers reported pressures about operating on the frontline, rather than the detail of information sharing.

ACTION: Secretariat to circulate a summary of the SGA event to Panel members.

The Chair Invited members to join him at upcoming meetings with GIRFEC Lead Officers, CEL29 and Third Sector organisations. He informed the Panel that he was meeting with the Coalition of Care Providers in Scotland on 24 May and will provide feedback in due course. The Chair informed that the GIRFEC policy team leader will be attending next meeting.



GIRFEC Practice Development Panel
c/o Scottish Government
Children and Families Directorate
Victoria Quay

Telephone: 0300 244 4000 (0300 numbers are geographically neutral)

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