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John Swinney makes statement on Named Person Service

The Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced today he will bring forward a Bill that will include new provisions on when and how information can be shared by and with the Named Person service. The new provisions will ensure that we address the Supreme Court’s judgment, live up to our objective of supporting children and young people and give them and their families reassurance that their rights are respected fully. The intention is to introduce the Bill ahead of the summer recess. 

This approach will involve replacing some of the provisions in the 2014 Act that the Supreme Court was concerned about, with new provisions requiring Named Person service providers and others involved with children and young people to consider whether sharing information would promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person; and requiring them then to consider whether sharing that information would be compatible with data protection law, human rights and the law of confidentiality. Only if information can be shared consistently within these legal constraints will there be a power to share it and the legislation will make this clear. This will promote good and consistent practice by imposing an explicit duty on Named Person service providers and others to consider information sharing.

Through both practice and the legislative framework, the importance of involving families in the sharing of their personal information will be central to how the Named Person service works with families. This new approach means that young people and families should have confidence that information will be shared only where this can be done in a manner which respects their rights under data protection law, human rights and the law of confidentiality.

Ian Welsh OBE, Alliance Chief Executive said:
“The Alliance welcomes the Deputy First Minister’s statement. It is clear that he has listened  to the views of Alliance members who took part in the engagement process which he launched. I am heartened that the Scottish Government continues to give full support to the creation of the Named Person service because many parents of children living with disability or long term conditions say that they benefit from having a central point of contact who can help them navigate the complex system of care. Parents have told us that they want to work in partnership with support services. They will be reassured by the Deputy First Minister’s  clear commitment to the principle of consent driving the sharing of information where sharing this information will help promote the wellbeing of children and young people. Parents will also welcome the strong commitment made in the statement about the central importance of support services working in partnership with families.”

What does this mean for families?

The proposed changes make clear that information sharing will be compatible with data protection law, human rights and the law of confidentiality and will respect the rights of families fully. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as where the risk of harm is present, should we consider departing from the core principles of consent, engagement and empowerment of families as the best way forward when considering sharing information.

The full statement and associated news release can be viewed on the GIRFEC section of the Scottish Government website. >

Ministers have highly valued all contributions to the three month engagement process between September and December 2016.  The engagement included discussions on how to address the concerns that the Supreme Court raised, the principles that should underpin legislation on information sharing and the development of guidance to set out how information should be shared under the legislation.  It involved over 50 meetings and some 250 organisations and groups including around 700 young people, parents and carers, practitioners, professionals and leaders from education, health, local authorities, police, faith communities, unions and charities.

The notes of the meetings are summaries of the discussions officials and Ministers heard at these meetings. The meetings involved different participants at each meeting and event.  The length and delivery format of each meeting varied to meet the needs of participants – this variety is reflected in the structure and length of each meeting note posted here. In some instances the meeting notes were produced by the host organisations and reflect their summaries of the discussions.

The notes of the engagement meetings are at >

The Deputy First Minister said:

“We are grateful to all those people who took part in what was a genuinely open engagement.  We listened to children, young people, parents/carers and practitioners. We listened to those who had concerns about information sharing and were prepared to consider a revised way forward. 

“I want to reassure Parliament that we have taken seriously, our responsibility to provide an appropriate response to the Supreme Court judgment. 

“The approach I have set out today seeks to bring consistency, clarity and coherence to the practice of sharing information about children and young people’s wellbeing across Scotland.”  

As the revised legislation is developed,  Scottish Government will continue to engage with and listen intensely to the public and practitioners at each stage of the process. This will build on the engagement that has provided us with a clear collective vision for a way forward. The Parliamentary process for the Bill will also provide for involvement in shaping and scrutiny of the proposed legislation.

Government will work with practitioners and organisations to enable them to implement the new legislation, including the guidance on information sharing. This guidance will be an important resource which will assist practitioners to take a systematic approach to information sharing in appropriate cases.

What does this mean for practitioners?

This means that there will be no absolute requirement to share information under the Act, there will be scope for professional judgement and discretion with information being shared without consent only in exceptional circumstances.  The requirement to share information by or with a Named Person service will be replaced with a duty on Named Person service providers and relevant authorities to consider if they have information that would promote, support or safeguard a child’s wellbeing if shared, and if they hold such information, a further duty to consider if they have the legal power to share this information compatibly with data protection law, human rights and the law of confidentiality.  If both of these are true then they will have a power to share the information but not a requirement to share the information.

If you have an immediate questions after the statement please don’t hesitate get in touch with the Scottish Government GIRFEC Team through the GIRFEC mailbox

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