A continuation of our timeline for 2018 –GIRFEC and the Cult of SHANARRI – a chronology of significant events on the road to hellbeing – as state surveillance and social engineering projects hit both the legal (and practical) buffers. Mainly UK, but (dis)honourable mentions for other wannabe (and actual) totalitarian regimes.
5 January 2018
Teacher shortages will leave pupils without basic school education and parents without free childcare, never mind the promised 24/7 named person ‘entitlement’. SARs, FOIs, GDPR compliance and complaints will tip councils over the financial precipice.
For all the swirling arguments about different approaches to school governance, pedagogy, qualifications and curricular structures, there is a simple truth blighting it: many schools in Scotland just don’t have enough teachers.
There are ominous signs around the country. Headteachers increasingly find themselves plugging gaps in the classroom when they are supposed to be guiding schools through a period of breakneck change. Last month, Moray Council warned that a lack of teachers might result in pupils going to school part-time. Some subjects – home economics is mentioned to us more than any other – are disappearing from schools after fruitless efforts to advertise jobs several times.
6 January 2018
A CRISIS in morale in a key Scottish Government department is undermining the ability of solicitors to challenge ministers over policies such as the Named Person Scheme, it has been claimed.
An internal civil service survey covering lawyers in the government’s Directorate for Legal Services found only 47 per cent of staff had confidence in the director Murray Sinclair, who has been at the helm for 11 years.
But the survey’s findings were catastrophic among staff covering children, education, health and social care. Of the 17 solicitors in this department, only one said they had confidence in the decisions made by Mr Sinclair, and only one agreed with the statement: “it is safe to challenge the way things are done in the Scottish Government”. Asked if they felt they could speak up when there was a serious policy or delivery risk, 42 per cent of staff did not agree.
Overall, 34 per cent of civil servants responding said they did not think change was managed well in the Scottish Government – but results were worse again in the legal department responsible for advising ministers in areas such as named persons, elderly care and health, where 76 per cent said change was not well-managed.
A Scottish Government legal directorate insider said: “There is a sense that if you challenge things you will be moved on. The expectation seems to be that the civil service will ‘deliver’ for ministers, rather than serve the public. There is a lot of unhappiness.”
11 January 2018
Children’s rights curtailed by Education Act 2016, contrary to to governmennt spin (and support from funded organisations).
The Children’s Commissioner was criticised on Twitter for deleting a thread on Facebook in which commenters had challenged the fake claims.
I posted a comment too and they have all gone. There was very on point criticism there. What's happened to free speech? I saved some for my records.
— 🐈🐓🐝🏴 (@speyquine) January 11, 2018
Sorry about this. We discussed it in our office and decided that promoting Reach's site might give the view our office has been fully supportive of this Act, which isn't true. We had several criticisms of it, which are summarised here: https://t.co/Dzqc6G1Rz1
— Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland (@CYPCS) January 11, 2018
Surely it would be appropriate to allow informed comment on the resource in question to encourage discussion? The critique offered was in keeping with your own concerns about barriers to the exercise of children's rights and creation of back door disability discrimination.
— Ali White (@Leahurst66) January 11, 2018
Surely it would be appropriate to allow informed comment on the resource in question to encourage discussion? The critique offered was in keeping with your own concerns about barriers to the exercise of children's rights and creation of back door disability discrimination.
— Ali White (@Leahurst66) January 11, 2018
Saved comment from deleted Facebook thread:
“Children’s rights are not ‘extended’ by the 2016 Act as their exercise is conditional upon ‘professionals’ determining a child’s capacity and potential adverse effects on ‘wellbeing’, using indicators that are open to highly subjective interpretation and were deemed ‘notably vague’ by the Supreme Court.
In other words, it will maintain a strict gate-keeping system in relation to children’s rights to have their additional support needs assessed and addressed. They will be prevented from using their rights if/when a gatekeeper considers they lack capacity and/or it might hinder their wellbeing journey as defined by the state. Families already bruised by an under-resourced and uncompromising system are predicting even longer delays and/or denial of access to support as an additional hurdle has been introduced dressed up in UNCRC clothing as the latest bit of GIRFEC gimmickry.
Meanwhile, these same children are presumed to have capacity to hand over their own and other family members’ personal information and to complete intrusive ‘wellbeing’ surveys in power-over school settings without informed consent. Double standards or what?”
12 January 2018
Scottish government nobbling of committee witnesses confirmed via FOI.
Senior civil servants rushed to set up meetings with witnesses due to appear before Holyrood’s education committee so they could “provide clarification”, according to emails released under freedom of information laws.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, last month suggested the meetings with the groups that include Police Scotland, colleges and charities, were routine.
However, the documents show that senior civil servants were desperate to speak to witnesses. Opposition MSPs claim the tactics provide the latest evidence of a culture of meddling in the work of independent bodies.
An email on October 9, sent to Police Scotland by the deputy leader of the team steering the bill through parliament, said the “bill team leader” was keen to meet the person from the force due to give evidence on October 25. Similar emails were sent to the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Colleges Scotland, Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland and the charity Barnados.
NASUWT, the teachers union, indicated that it had advised members to refuse to become named persons while the children’s commissioner feared that the threshold for information sharing was being lowered, potentially placing children’s privacy at risk.
15 January 2018
“We definitely oversample the poor,” says Erin Dalton, Director of Allegheny County’s Office of Data Analysis, Research and Evaluation. “All of the data systems we have are biased. We still think this data can be helpful in protecting kids.”
Where the line is drawn between the routine conditions of poverty and child neglect is particularly vexing. Many struggles common among poor families are officially defined as child maltreatment, including not having enough food, having inadequate or unsafe housing, lacking medical care, or leaving a child alone while you work. Unhoused families face particularly difficult challenges holding on to their children, as the very condition of being homeless is judged neglectful.
On a scale of 1 to 20, with 1 being the lowest level of risk and 20 being the highest, I guess that Stephen will be a 4, and Krzysztof a 6. Gordon smirks and hits the button that runs the AFST. On her screen, a graphic that looks like a thermometer appears: It’s green down at the bottom and progresses up through yellow shades to a vibrant red at the top. The numbers come up exactly as she predicted. Stephen, the six-year-old who may have suffered sexual abuse and is possibly homeless, gets a 5. Krzysztof, the teenager who sleeps on the couch in a cold apartment? He gets a 14.
Oversampling the Poor
Faith that big data, algorithmic decision-making, and predictive analytics can solve our thorniest social problems—poverty, homelessness, and violence—resonates deeply with our beliefs as a culture. But that faith is misplaced. On the surface, integrated data and artificial intelligence seem poised to produce revolutionary changes in the administration of public services. Computers apply rules to every case consistently and without prejudice, so proponents suggest that they can root out discrimination and unconscious bias. Number matching and statistical surveillance effortlessly track the spending, movements, and life choices of people accessing public assistance, so they can be deployed to ferret out fraud or suggest behavioral interventions. Predictive models promise more effective resource allocation by mining data to infer future actions of individuals based on behavior of “similar” people in the past.
We might call this poverty profiling. Like racial profiling, poverty profiling targets individuals for extra scrutiny based not on their behavior but rather on a personal characteristic: They live in poverty. Because the model confuses parenting while poor with poor parenting, the AFST views parents who reach out to public programs as risks to their children.
[From AUTOMATING INEQUALITY: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, by Virginia Eubanks]
15 January 2018
All information contained within correspondence between Scottish Government and Police Scotland and/or legacy forces with regard to the interim Vulnerable Persons Database/Vulnerable Persons Database
Of particular interest:
Commitment to ‘weeding’ 250k records: FOI-18-02597-Annex+A-VPD+information (1)-pages-47-48
Response to Neil Findlay MSP re constituent’s concerns over legal basis for VPD data processing: FOI-18-02597-Annex+A-VPD+information (1)-pages-35-42
16 January 2018
The measures include axing 40 teaching posts and reducing additional support for learning in schools.
“Reduction, in Additional Support for Learning in schools. This will involve significant reductions in the number of PSAs (Pupil Support Assistants) and ASN (Assistant Special Needs) teachers.
“Reduction in special additional support services. This is likely to impact in educational psychology, behaviour support, English as an additional language, interrupted learning, autism, assistive technology, and pre-school support services.
“Reduced teacher staffing in medium sized and larger secondary schools, involving around 40 posts.
16 January 2017
Campaigners are urging the (UK) Government to pause a new collection of pupil data amid fears it will put sensitive information about vulnerable children at risk.
From 18 January, local authorities will record information on the reasons children are transferred from mainstream education – information including mental health issues, pregnancy and youth offences.
The data, which can be recorded without the consent of parents, will be connected to the child’s name and stored in the national pupil database, where it will never be deleted.
In a letter to the Education Secretary, 20 organisations including Mencap – a UK charity for people with a learning disability – and the National Education Union say the measures, carried out in the alternative provision census, mean pupils risk being “labelled for life”.
23 January 2018
…colleagues believe he will soon be back for the first time since resigning from his post more than 11 weeks ago after two women complained about him.
But last night an insider said: “Female MSPs who think the party has handled this badly are upset about the idea of him being back among them with no consultation.”
The Aberdeen Donside MSP, now sitting as an independent, is still on his £61,778 salary.
25 January 2018
Swinney faces questions over ‘witness interference’ (The Times)
29 January 2018
The Scandal of Spycops in Scotland (by Harvey Duke for Bella Caledonia)
Scotland is not at the periphery of the spycops scandal, but at the heart of it. This is the story missing from most media accounts of the crisis of policing in Scotland. It raises fundamental questions about human rights, freedom of assembly and democracy: Why is no-one interested in the police state spying on peaceful campaigners, why are so few journalists covering this and what are the Scottish Government going to do about it?
The Home Office were asked by Scottish Justice Minister Michael Matheson in December 2015 to expand the Public Inquiry to include Scotland. Home Secretary Theresa May refused. In two Scottish Parliamentary debates in 2016 there was cross-party support for a Scottish inquiry. Yet, the Scottish Government said no.
Dr Nick McKerrell, a Law Lecturer in Glasgow:
“The use of undercover policing in a democratic society explicitly undermines the human right to privacy. In legal terms this is known as Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.This can be justified by the state if the overturning of the right prevents crime, breakdown in public order or protects secret state information. The spycops cases hardly fall into this situation. In fact the environmentalists, peace and animal rights activists targeted could be seen as directly contradicting these directives of justifications.
This then interferes with another legal right: Article 11 – the freedom of assembly. Organising as a group for peaceful and political ends is explicitly protected by this. For spycops to focus on these groups is an undermining of these laws.”
30 January 2018
The Government is breaking the law by collecting the nation’s internet activity and phone records and letting public bodies grant themselves access to these personal details with no suspicion of serious crime and no independent sign-off – meaning significant parts of its latest Snoopers’ Charter are effectively unlawful.
Judges at the Court of Appeal have today backed a challenge by MP Tom Watson, represented by Liberty, to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) – a previous law covering state surveillance.
DRIPA expired at the end of 2016 – but the Government replicated and vastly expanded the same powers in the Investigatory Powers Act, which started to come into force in 2017. Liberty is challenging this latest law in a major separate case, to be heard in the High Court later this year.
Court of Appeal judges today ruled DRIPA breached British people’s rights because, among other things, it:
did not restrict access to this data, in the context of the investigation and prosecution of crime, to the purpose of fighting serious crime.
let police and public bodies authorise their own access, instead of subjecting access requests to prior authorisation by a court or independent body.
The Act dramatically expanded powers to gather data on the entire population, while maintaining the lack of safeguards that resulted in this legal challenge. It also legalised other unprecedented mass surveillance powers – including mass hacking, spying on phone calls and emails on an industrial scale and collecting huge databases containing sensitive information on millions of people.
These indiscriminate powers are also unlawful and Liberty is challenging them in a separate case, having crowdfunded more than £50,000 in just a few days to support their challenge.
3 February 2018
What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State (New York Times)
Imagine that this is your daily life: While on your way to work or on an errand, every 100 meters you pass a police blockhouse. Video cameras on street corners and lamp posts recognize your face and track your movements. At multiple checkpoints, police officers scan your ID card, your irises and the contents of your phone. At the supermarket or the bank, you are scanned again, your bags are X-rayed and an officer runs a wand over your body — at least if you are from the wrong ethnic group. Members of the main group are usually waved through.
You have had to complete a survey about your ethnicity, your religious practices and your “cultural level”; about whether you have a passport, relatives or acquaintances abroad, and whether you know anyone who has ever been arrested or is a member of what the state calls a “special population.”
This personal information, along with your biometric data, resides in a database tied to your ID number. The system crunches all of this into a composite score that ranks you as “safe,” “normal” or “unsafe.”Based on those categories, you may or may not be allowed to visit a museum, pass through certain neighborhoods, go to the mall, check into a hotel, rent an apartment, apply for a job or buy a train ticket. Or you may be detained to undergo re-education, like many thousands of other people.
5 February 2018
This Freedom of Information response from the Scottish Government (to a request for details of meetings held with witnesses prior to their giving evidence before the parliament’s education and skills committee) led to media coverage, including:
Ministers accused over snooper proposal (Mail)
Documents obtained by a freedom of information request reveal there were a number of telephone and email contacts made, as well as numerous meetings, between officials and people giving evidence to the Education and Skills Committee.
The documents confirm that – out of a total of 32 witnesses – government officials contacted all but seven of them.
The government has already come under pressure around its contact with those providing evidence regarding the Named Person scheme. But, the latest release shows the full scale of the government’s contact with committee witnesses, including the types of contact which took place and the dates on which meetings were held.
The only organisations not contacted by the government were the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, the University of Edinburgh, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, Crossreach, the No to Named Person Campaign and Clan Childlaw.
Ross Greer MSP, Education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said that the Named Person Bill was “incredibly important” for the wellbeing of Scottish children.**
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As is entirely right and proper, the Scottish Government engaged with stakeholders throughout the passage of the Information Sharing Bill and we will continue to do so in the development of supporting materials, such as the Code of Practice and guidance.
“This is to ensure that those affected by developing law and policy are well informed, their concerns are heard and that they can be involved and influence changes that will affect them.” ***
* Incorrect title of the bill in question which is the Children & Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill.
** A seriously deluded comment (reportedly) from a Green MSP who appears to have no qualms about infringing citizens’ human rights and is just following orders.
*** Parents and children are directly affected, yet have been excluded from all involvement.
6/7 February 2018
Further coverage as John Swinney expected to be questioned by education and skills committee.
John Swinney has been accused of mounting a “delusional” defence to claims that his officials ran a lobbying campaign aimed at influencing the testimony of Holyrood witnesses.
The tactic caused concern among MSPs on the committee, who suspect Mr Swinney’s staff were seeking to persuade witnesses to water down their criticism when giving their evidence.
Labour MSP Johann Lamont, deputy convener of the education and skills committee, raised concerns over the meetings, which often occurred the week before witnesses were due to appear before MSPs and were “explicitly to discuss their evidence to this committee”.
She said this appeared “quite different from the Scottish Government routinely looking to meet stakeholders”.
Witnesses approached by the Scottish Government included representatives from Police Scotland and Colleges Scotland. Some changed their position on the back of the meetings.
7 February 2018
Scotland’s most senior police officer has resigned his post with immediate effect.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley is currently the subject of five separate investigations by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) amid allegations of bullying.
The chief constable, who denies any wrongdoing, has been on leave since September and had 10 months of his current contract still to run.
Comment: Police Scotland has been recording citizens’ details on its Vulnerable Persons Database and passing ‘wellbeing concern reports’ to named persons and other agencies without consent or lawful basis. The beleaguered single force has already admitted that it will not be compliant with the GDPR by the 25 May deadline.
7 February 2018
Reported interference by the Scottish government in the handling of politically sensitive FOI requests from journalists and others.
— James McEnaney (@MrMcEnaney) February 7, 2018
8 February 2018
Nicola Sturgeon has been questioned at Holyrood on the Scottish government’s handling of freedom of information (FOI) requests from journalists.
It follows claims that information is being withheld on political grounds by government ministers and special advisers.
The allegations are being examined by the country’s information watchdog.
But Ms Sturgeon said the way the government deals with FOI requests was “entirely appropriate”.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives called for the government’s parliamentary business minister to answer questions from MSPs over claims he may have misled parliament when questioned on the issue last summer.
When asked in June whether requests were being screened for potential political damage by special advisers, Joe Fitzpatrick responded: “No, requests are all prepared by Scottish government officials. Special advisers have a role in assessing draft responses for accuracy.”
Tory MSP Edward Mountain said: “We now know that the answers given by Mr Fitzpatrick to the Scottish Parliament are not true.
“The evidence suggests that special advisers are routinely involved in the freedom of information process for political purposes and John Swinney himself is suppressing documents when it suits him.”
MSPs have previously unanimously condemned the government’s performance on FOI requests and called for an independent inquiry.
9 February 2018
More details of John Swinney’s alleged interference ion FOI responses.
Having now had time to cross-check all the different documents in my possession I am able to provide further details of John Swinney's influence over the contents of an FOI response I received (as reported in various outlets) pic.twitter.com/HjAbVLZvak
— James McEnaney (@MrMcEnaney) February 9, 2018
10 February 2018
Police in the UK have started using a mobile fingerprinting system that lets them check the identity of an unknown person in less than a minute. Fingerprints collected on the street will be compared against the 12 million records contained in national criminal and immigration fingerprint databases and, if a match is found, will return the individual’s name, date of birth and other identifying information.
Officers will only resort to fingerprint scanning if they cannot identify an individual by other means, says Clive Poulton, who helped manage the project at the Home Office. The devices might be used in cases where someone has no identifying information on them, or appears to be giving police a fake name. “[Police] can now identify the person in front of them – whether they are known to them or not known to them, and then they can deal with them,” Poulton says.
Earlier this week, the UK parliament’s Science and Technology Committee grilled the Home Office about its long-delayed biometric strategy. Originally intended for publication in 2012, Home Office minister Susan Williams told MPs it would now be made available this June. The government has attracted criticism for failing to adhere to a 2012 High Court ruling that prevents the government from keeping images of innocent people on file. To date, the government’s custody image database has already amassed 21 millions images of people’s faces and identifying faces.
10 February 2018
One day, Calvin Robinson – a successful teacher – made a big decision: he was going to reveal his allegiance to the Conservative Party.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. I wouldn’t say it left me scarred, but it certainly shaped my opinion of the profession,” he said. “I told people I was a Conservative in the staffroom one day. People were genuinely aghast. Jaws dropped. There was suddenly a weird vibe.”
Calvin received hate mail, tweets and emails calling him “a liar, Tory scum and a good slave trying to appease his masters”. The worst experience he had was when one member of staff felt so aggrieved over comments he’d made in The Telegraph about the profession that they lodged a formal complaint and tried to end his career.
“This colleague disagreed with my opinion so strongly, they were willing to file a formal complaint and attempt to tarnish my career prospects. “Sharing your opinion can be dangerous,” he concluded.
Last year, a history and RE teacher called Jonathan Porter published an article for the Tes where he pinned his colours to the Tory mast prior to the 2017 general election.
With the myriad problems currently present in our education system, it’s fair to say that his view would never have been received well, but what was surprising was the vitriol with which fellow education professionals were willing to pour over a fellow teacher’s political view. One headteacher tweeted, I quote, “Jonathan Porter, quite simply what a ****, out of touch attention-seeking plank. You are the first person ever banned from [this school]”.
The stories relayed in this article are astonishing, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. I have recently seen teachers express the view that we need to intervene when we don’t think views expressed are appropriate. Although perhaps not as blunt as direct abuse, we also surely have a duty to not to allow the subduing of contrary views to become the norm either.
13 February 2018
(The so-called ‘independent’ panel which is stuffed with those whose organisations are funded by the government)
“The Panel will be responsible for producing a draft Code of Practice for information sharing, by consensus. This will be presented to the Deputy First Minister, who will then forward an authoritative draft of the code to the Education and Skills Committee in September 2018 thus enabling them to resume Stage 1 of the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill.
“The Panel will ensure that a version of the draft Code offered to Committee is also suitable to operate on a non-statutory basis in relation to information sharing by practitioners under the current law, ahead of the commencement of Parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
“The Panel is also invited to provide recommendations on the Statutory Guidance for Part 4 and 5 and other support materials ahead of the resumption of Stage 1 of the Bill in September 2018.”
John Swinney attended the first meeting of the clique which includes some of those who caused the data theft problem in the first place.
Panel chair is “Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance and leads them to achieve the ALLIANCE vision for a Scotland where people who are disabled or living with a long term condition and carers have a strong voice and enjoy their right to live well. He is also a Non-Executive Director of NHS Ayrshire and Arran Board and East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership. Ian is also a former teacher and is a father to a learning-disabled adult son.”
Ian Welsh, Chair
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP
Professor Paul Martin, University of West Scotland
Mike Burns, Social Work Scotland
Norman Conway, Police Scotland
Maureen Falconer, Information Commissioner’s Office
Sally-Ann Kelly, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
Jennifer King, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
Annette Holliday, Community Practitioners and Health Visiting Association
Joanna Murphy, National Parent Forum Scotland
Norma Shippin, Central Legal Office, NHS National Services Scotland
Chris Creegan, Scottish Commission for Learning Disability
Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
Susan Quinn, Educational Institute of Scotland
Helen Malo, Royal College of Nursing, attending on behalf of Lorna Greene
Lorna Greene, Royal College of Nursing
Ann Houston, Child Protection Committees Scotland
Eddie Docherty, Scottish Executive Nursing Directors
Peter Hessett, Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators
The deputy first minster was permitted to address the ‘independent’ panel and make a misleading statement to the effect that ” too many historic cases where wellbeing had not been safeguarded, promoted and protected, and where poor information sharing had been part of the reason why.” [This is categorically untrue in the case of all the dead children in Fife and Highland whose data was flowing freely across boundaries.]
“The Chair informed the Panel that a legal focus group including a small number Panel members with legal expertise will be established to work in lockstep with the Panel. This focus group will look in detail at the technical, legal aspects of drafting the Code and will include Panel members Norma Shippin, Peter Hessett and Maureen Falconer. In addition, Alison Reid, Child Clanlaw who is not a member of the Panel, has also offered her assistance with these legally focussed discussions.” [The membership does not inspire confidence, especially the inclusion of the ICO whose ‘joint working’ woth the GIRFEC team resulted in breaches of the law since 2013. All are funded by the government.]
“It was confirmed by officials that the liability for duties are on the Named Person Service provider, not on the individual practitioner.” [It is clear that people are more worried about their own liability than breaching the rights of children and families by ‘just following orders’. Regardless, they will be named and shamed by victims and subject to disciplinary action if they fail to get it right.]
“Panel members discussed consent. Some highlighted that informed consent is the basis of current, best practice and the members wanted this be reflected more clearly. Others highlighted that that consent has to be only one of the options, as it would not be suitable as a mandatory requirement. Some members expressed interest in a potential amendment to the Bill on consent, particularly in relation to the changes under GDPR. While the Chair noted that amendments to the Bill are outwith the remit of the Panel, he noted that further consideration of consent would be helpful.” [If consent is not to be the legal basis, children and families cannot trust any practitioner with their information, given the evidence of wrongdoing that has already been obtained via SARs and the blatantly unlawful threshold that has been left uncorrected in official public sector information sharing guidance, including the NHS – see below example from Orkney, but Fife and others also get it wrong.]
16 February 2018
A children’s rights activist has been jailed for six years and eight months for sexually abusing a boy in the 1960s. Peter Newell was the former co-ordinator of the Association for the Protection of All Children charity.
Curiouser and curiouser (UK Column) exposes the significance of Newell’s conviction for the children’s rights agenda, the UNCRC, and UK Children Act(s), all of which have been perverted to facilitate the abuse of vulnerable children through universal surveillance, monitoring, databasing and early intervention.
See also this dot-joining blog post: UN’S TOP CHILDREN’S RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER IS A PAEDOPHILE
Joint Committee On Human Rights: Memorandum from the Family Education Trust (2003)
While Mr Newell regards it as impolitic to press for a Commissioner with access to the family home “at this point”, that is certainly the goal on which he has set his sights. As the children’s rights agenda unfolds, little by little, the authority and responsibilities of parents will be whittled away and transferred to an unelected and unaccountable statutory office with the power to impose a whole philosophy and pattern of child-rearing on every home in the land.
How childcare was hijacked (Telegraph, 1998)
Activists for ‘children’s rights’ have unwittingly aided the paedophile agenda, argues Lynette Burrows
“THE PROGRESS of “children’s rights” affords a classic example of the spellbinding effect that can be created by pressure groups. The lobby that has masterminded the movement numbers no more than a couple of dozen people, and yet its effect has been phenomenal. This can be explained only by the fact that its area of interest, the family, was relatively unexploited until a number of administrative decisions were made.
“Childcare pressure groups have been influential, if not decisive, in many of the policy decisions concerning children and the family. Most people assume that campaigning groups enjoy public support. In the case of many of the children’s rights groups, however, this is not the case. It is worrying that many children’s rights organisations are, in fact, started by the same handful of people and that they rely almost entirely on institutional and charitable support.
“Peter Newell and Rachel Hodgkin have been involved in the setting-up of no fewer than eight of the most important organisations involved in children’s rights, including the Children’s Rights Office and the Children’s Rights Development Unit. All have enjoyed the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Gulbenkian Foundation. They and their colleagues are influential both here and in Europe, where they are helping to draft parliament regulations for the European Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Together with a dozen or so colleagues, they have produced reports, sat on committees and recommended one another’s views on a host of issues, almost invariably within the agenda of the libertarian Left.”
Burrows claimed in her book ‘The Fight for The Family’ that Peter Newell was uniquely involved in setting up the first Children’s Rights charities in the UK. She also exposed the Paedophile Information Exchange championing Children’s Rights, which preceded the UNCRC, but no one suspected that Newell’s had abused children himself.
- First London Free School (ex Director)
- Children’s Legal Centre (Founder Director)
- Advisory Centre for Education (Educatonal rights organisation) (Ex
- Company Secretary)
- STOPP Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment (Coordinator)
- EPOCH End Physical Punishment of Children (Founder)
- APPROACH Association for the Protection Of All Children (Founder)
- IPSEA Independent Panel for Special Education Advice Ltd (FounderDirector)
- CG1993 Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation published and funded the report “One Scandal too Many” – a case for comprehensive protection of children in all settings. (Coordinated by)
- CG1995 CGF published and funded report ‘Children and Violence’ (Coordinated by)
- CRDU Children’s Rights Development Unit Ltd
- CRO Children’s Rights Office
- CG1991 CGF funded and published report, ‘Taking Children Seriously’ a proposal for the establishment of a Children’s Rights Commissioner (part of advisory group)
- CG1996 CGF published and funded report: ‘Effective Government Structures for Children’ – a proposal for ensuring that central government is responsive to the needs and rights of children. (Co-ordinated by PN and Rachel Hodgkin)
19 February 2018
Records were filed where the health visitor had copied and pasted information from another child and changed the name. On a number of occasions she sent staff out to homes to carry out checks on vulnerable children who were not qualified to assess them.
Numerous charges found proved involved her falsifying records including one where she, “Completed a single agency assessment summary for Child 16 which was identical to two other children on your caseload, with only the Christian name changed.”
An inquiry by the Nursing and Midwifery Council found, “concerns were wide ranging and included children and families not being assessed, inappropriate delegation of tasks to less qualified staff and numerous concerns about record keeping including misleading and missing information.”
20 February 2018
22 February 2018
THE row over alleged Holyrood witness tampering has taken an ominous turn for John Swinney, after MSPs refused to accept his assurance that there was no wrongdoing.
The Education Secretary has now been asked for a breakdown of all contacts between his officials and witnesses who testified to the parliament’s education committee about the Named Person’s scheme.
Information released under freedom of information revealed his civil servants had regularly set up meetings with key witnesses just days before they were due to discuss the subject.
23 February 2018
In this disappointingly misleading TES article, CLAN Childlaw is taking credit (or being given credit) for winning the ‘Named Person’ judicial review when in reality they rode on the coat tails of NO2NP, as intervenors, in both the Inner House of the Court of Session (where their intervention was thrown out) and the UK Supreme Court (which unanimously allowed the appeal). CLAN (and others) were at least 15 years behind home educators who had consistently pointed out the implications of data mining and sharing between multiple agencies below the child protection threshold without consent. [Just take a look through this timeline] If the Scottish Home Education Forum had been able to secure the same pro bono legal advice and counsel representation afforded to CLAN, their intervention would have been equally successful.
Social media comment: “The CLAN Childlaw intervention was belated and they also got a completely free ride because others had picked up the tab. It is obviously too embarrassing to admit that the NO2NP campaign was right all along and there is no humility or even recognition that other charities and individuals funded the case to the tune of £500k. Bandwagon jumping at its worst and also a lack of acknowledgement that not only children’s rights were affected, but also those of all associated adults whose data has already been processed illegally by multiple agencies. The NP as a point of contact was never challenged, it was the NP scheme as legislated for in the 2014 Act (which relied on universal data collection and sharing) that was the issue. Muddying the waters is what this government and its lackeys have been seeking to perpetuate for years in order to fool the sheeple.”
23 February 2018
The significiant case review into the death of Clyde Campbell, in Invernesstwo years ago today, listed the named persons of Clyde and his 10 year old brother, mental health staff, social workers and neighbours of the family as among those who could have done more to raise concerns.
Amanda Hardie, the boys’ mother was jailed for five months after admitting charges relating to neglect, in 2016. She frequently left her sons alone and the NSPCC had reported concerns that rubbish and animal excrement littered the family home.
Clyde Campbell, two, from Inverness, died of cot death in February 2014. A report concluded that all those with supervisory roles, including his named person, missed several opportunities to intervene.
An inquiry into Clyde’s death indicated that “more direct and timely intervention could have been taken” by all agencies, including the named person assigned to look after his interests.
27 February 2018
Oh Dear Me, A Childhood ‘Thrawn’ and ‘Chided’, Requires An Education System Less Ill-Divided! By Christina Milarvie Quarrell and John Davi
On the Resilience film (being shown to ‘noise up’ professionals):
“At no point does the video point out that there is an industry of middle-class consultants using such films to exploit children for financial gain, blame families and hoodwink public servants into paying for strategies to ACE that don’t work e.g. the PPP parenting approach that failed in Glasgow.
The Glasgow effect report connects ill-health to having a lack of power to change your life and design your communities. If the ACE film simply leads to more interference by do-gooder professionals who think they have all the answers, it will simply re-create the very circumstances of disempowerment it describes in families, in public services.”
The authors are however, GIRFEC blind as the data theft outcomes-based approach to ‘remediating’ children and families has created even more problems for them at the hands of SHANARRI ‘wellbeing’ wheel-spinners and box tickers:
“Through the Getting It Right For Every Child Approach, the Additional Support for Learning Act and their subsequent guidance, we have developed over a decade of innovative practice on how to prevent childhood experiences becoming learning barriers. This involves taking a balanced approach to children’s life issues; trying to work on removing barriers to learning through dialogue (e.g. using the GIRFEC my world assessment) and by enabling children and parents to work out what they think the solutions are to their life problems.”
Also no acknowledgment that the GIRFEC data theft approach essentially infringes human rights:
“For a wide variety of reasons, parents and professionals can fail to provide the support that children require . Hence, we need a GIRFEC approach not just the children, but, for the adults tasked with supporting the children – if the teacher, social worker or health professional is experiencing difficulties with colleagues, housing or their own family members; we need to ensure they are also supported to do their job and have the capacity to deliver on the promises they have made children.”
The totalitarian agenda summed up. Triple C GIRFEC: Getting Information Recorded For Every Child, Citizen & Community.
Yet the authors say:
“The great failing of the ACE film is that it did not recognize need to hold off intervening in children’s lives, to resist temptation to offer advice until we understand children’s own ways of being.”
…. which contradicts the whole Mystic Meg ‘early’ interventionist basis of GIRFEC.
1 March 2018
Dystopian developments in Hackney. Consent from the lab rats doesn’t merit a mention.
Hackney council has partnered with tech company Xantura to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) computer programme they believe could help them support families with multiple needs earlier, in some cases even before they meet any statutory agency.
Steve Liddicott, head of service for children and young people at Hackney council, said the ‘Early Help Predictive System’ uses data from multiple sources to help identify families where extra support might be needed.
The overall purpose of the technology and analysis is to give the authority as much information as possible to help it decide whether a family needs support and begin as early as possible, whether that be through the Troubled Families programme, schools, education or children’s services.
After two years of testing the software, “we’re now getting to the stage where we are using it monthly to generate a list of between 10 and 20 families where we think there is evidence of future concern,” Liddicott says.
It uses this data to look at areas such as debt, worklessness, benefits, housing, domestic violence, youth offending, anti-social behaviour, and school attendance to create a profile of need for families.
The algorithm assigns different levels of priority to risks according to the presence or absence of other criteria it is analysing, Liddicott explains.
So far, the AI system has only been used to help the service identify needs of people currently involved with statutory agencies, but Liddicott explains there will be a point, once it becomes more sophisticated, when it could identify families with no history of interacting with the council.
It will then be up to the council and partner agencies to identify the most appropriate agency to contact the family.
The council is also looking to use the data sources to generate ‘snapshots’ of what is going on in certain families, which it hopes to use in how the service screens referrals going forward.
“That’s also going to be the basis of a pilot project on sharing information with general practitioners to assist them with making referrals to children’s social care, which they will be able to make through this system directly to our front door.”
The system is now up and running, and the council reports there have been early interventions triggered in response to alerts the new artificial intelligence has generated. Now it’s a waiting game to see whether this is the early help solution councils, and families, need.
3 March 2018
Another GIRFEC ‘success’ story from South Lanarkshire Council, who “continue to work with the family to find a solution that best serves the interests of the child.”
Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton* said: “My heart goes out to these people.
“It is quite clear this woman and her family have been utterly failed by every aspect of our education and care system. We expect in 2018 to have provision for additional support needs delivered to a high standard across every local authority. But time and again we find the social care services the vulnerable family need to rely on bear the brunt of cutbacks.”
* This is the same man who declared GIRFEC to be a resounding success at every opportunity when he worked for (state funded) Aberlour, but changed his tune as soon as he boarded the Holyrood gravy train as an MSP.
5 March 2018
Where were named person, lead professional and police when this child was assaulted in school? Where is the equal protection for vulnerable children in care settings? Why was this considered to be justifiable assault? Parents would have been prosecuted using the photographic evidence of this child’s injuries, but institutions are apparently immune.
A mother is to sue a council over horrific injuries suffered by her disabled daughter when she was restrained at school. Claire Nossiter has waited four years for the conclusion of council and police inquiries into the injuries to Lyndsay, now 20.
She was horrified to learn that two teachers charged over the incident would not be prosecuted. But North Lanarkshire Council found staff acted appropriately.
A police inquiry was so lacking in thoroughness that Claire’s complaint about it was upheld, with a second investigation ordered. This led to two teachers being charged with culpable and reckless conduct.But in January, Claire was told the case would not come to trial due to a lack of admissible evidence.
A spokesman for the council said: “Approved restraint techniques are sometimes required in the best interests of the pupil, other pupils and staff.
11 March 2018
Girls as young as 11 have been lured from their families to be drugged, beaten and raped in an epidemic that, say victims, is still ongoing. Three people were murdered and two others died in tragedies linked to the scandal.
Telford’s Tory MP Lucy Allan has demanded a public inquiry and said our findings were “extremely serious and shocking”.
14 March 2018
“Juliet Harris, Together asked for a legal perspective on consent being included in the Children and Young People Information Sharing (Scotland) Bill. John Paterson, Scottish Government Lawyer, stated that, if consent were included on the face of the Bill, it would need to also provide that consent was not required where the Data Protection Act and GDPR do not require it, adding extensive detail. Some members suggested referring to the importance of consent in the Code of Practice instead.” [Consent will be resisted all the way as they want and need the data on everyone for surveillance, profiing and remediation purposes.]
“One member highlighted they did not think that parents were aware of their rights under Data Protection laws when engaging with public services. Members discussed the potential for power imbalance between families and public service providers.” [Clearly they haven’t been paying attention to the current evidenced abuses of power by public service providers and others and the ICO’s failure to do anything at all about them.]
“Some members raised the point that there should be clear information provided to children, young people and parents that the Named Person Service is not compulsory for families and young people to use, but is an entitlement which can be accessed when families want or need it. Members requested that information should be provided to families on how they can opt out and back in to the service.” [Maybe they should try telling this to public service providers and others who are ‘just following orders’ in the form of unlawful guidance and inadequate training.]
“Members discussed thresholds between child wellbeing concerns and child welfare concerns as key for decision making about information sharing for the Named Person service. ACTION: Officials and the Legal Focus Group to provide further advice on what would constitute a wellbeing, welfare and child protection concern as these are all terms used in Scottish legislation and guidance.” [They should start with the Supreme Court judgment, which upheld the significant harm threshold for non-consensual information sharing (as ‘notion’ of wellbeing does not constitute an Article 8(2) exemption), and the Bara judgment from 2015 which precludes sharing between administrative bodies without advance notification – thus allowing data subjects to object or refuse to provide information about themselves or others parties who may not have consented to disclosure. Claming there is doubt about the threshold demonstrates that the ‘independent’ panel is nothing of the kind, not that it was ever in any doubt, given the vested interest invitees.]
“The Chair invited the Communications Manager from the Getting It Right For Every Child team to facilitate a forward planning workshop on stakeholder engagement. Members split into 3 groups to discuss 4 key points:
- What do you want to achieve from engaging?
- Who do you need to engage with and when?
- What are the opportunities and gaps in current GIRFEC engagements programme?
- What is your role and responsibilities in engaging?
The members provided their suggestions and ideas for the 4 questions which will be incorporated into a more extensive engagement programme in due course.
ACTION: Scottish Government officials to plan and design a comprehensive stakeholder engagement plan.”
If Scottish Government officials are planning the stakeholder engagement, it will not be independent and will be strictly controlled by the deputy first minister, who has already been accused of nobbling witnesses and whose staff have since been accused of pressurising parliamentary clerks).
This presentation was also delivered by one of the ‘independent’ panel members who has been the subject of complaints of ‘lacking independence’: General Data Protection Regulation – relying on consent.pdf
15 March 2018
16 March 2018
EDUCATION secretary John Swinney has told MSPs that there was nothing improper about approaches made by his officials to those due to give evidence about legislation on Named Persons, in the latest round of an ongoing dispute.
…members of the committee had expressed concerns that civil servants had met with individuals and organisations before they gave evidence to the committee, resulting in significant differences between the evidence they gave in writing and the views they expressed in person.
Now Mr Swinney has rejected those concerns in the latest in an exchange of correspondence in a 32-page riposte, insisting: “effective stakeholder and public engagement is the foundation of good government” and citing parliamentary rules to claim there was nothing wrong with the way officials acted.
19 March 2018
From the Scotsman
29 March 2018
The collection and analysis of more personal information from schoolchildren will be a defining feature of education in coming years. And just as the Facebook debacle raises public concerns about the use of personal data, a new international test of ten and 15-year-olds is to be introduced by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – a powerful influence on national education policies at a global scale.
In 2019, the OECD plans to launch its international Study on Social Emotional Learning. Designed as a computer-based self-completion questionnaire, at its core the test is a modified version of the Big Five Inventory. When implemented, the social and emotional skills test will assess students against each of the Big Five categories.
To be clear, although the OECD claims it is a test of social and emotional skills, it belongs to the same family of methods used in the Cambridge Analytica personality quiz. The same psychological assumptions and personality assessment methods underpin both.
Already, a commercial market of ed-tech apps and products, such as ClassDojo, has emerged to support and measure the development of students’ social-emotional skills in schools. Likewise, educational policies have begun to focus on social-emotional categories of learning, such as grit, growth mindset and character. The Department for Education supports the development of character skills in schools.
The emphasis will move further towards capturing intimate data from students, mining beneath the surface of their examination grades to capture interior details about their personalities. Advanced education technologies are already under development to see into the submerged depths of students’ personalities and emotions.
It risks reframing public education in terms of personality modification, driven by the political race for future economic advantage, rather than the pursuit of meaningful knowledge and understanding. It treats children as little indicators of future labour markets, and may distract teachers from other curriculum aims.
As education consultant Joe Nutt wrote in the Times Educational Supplement last year, “If you make data generation the goal of education then data is what you will get. Not quality teaching.”
Trust Us, We’re Politicians! MPs Seek Exemption From Data Protection Laws (Digit, by Ross Kelly)
MPs are currently debating exemptions in the Data Protection Bill could open citizens’ data up to Cambridge Analytica-style profiling by Britain’s political parties – or anyone they care to nominate.
6 April 2018
Big Brother Watch has been investigating the use of controversial big data in policing. Our investigation into the use of commercial consumer behaviour data in the public sector has resulted in the discovery of a very concerning case of profiling data informing AI custody decisions.
Analysis: Which ‘profile’ are you? Disconnected Youth? Asian Heritage?
10 April 2018
Hate speech and smears orchestrated by known vested interests who stand to gain from control over family life and the brainwashing of children. Twentieth century history lessons have been effectively banned.
Initial response from a home educator: Back to the (fascist) future (HE Forum blog)
10 April 2018
British and US lawyers have launched a joint class action against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and two other companies for allegedly misusing the personal data of more than 71 million people.
The lawsuit claims the firms obtained users’ private information from the social media network to develop “political propaganda campaigns” in the UK and the US.
12 April 2018
Councils may have broken the law by tracking residents for decades on secretive watch lists, a former senior manager who wrote the policy has warned.
The manager, who asked not to be named, was instrumental in drafting how local authorities record and process service users who are identified as a potential risk to staff and councillors.
In hundreds of cases, no explanation for inclusion or indication of how long the individual will remain on the list was given, while others appeared despite the system stating the reason “no longer applies”.
14 April 2018
Family holidays need state authorisation in Police State Scotland (Home Ed Forums)
State snoopers now out of control in Scotland, encouraged by government policy. Health visitors are being reported as a particular problem and many flout guidance from there professional body (NMC). Parent support networks now recommend recording all interactions with health visitors and other ‘professional pests’.
Ms Goncalves broadcast a live Facebook video stream that showed the four sat at a table outdoors. She said they were in Lisbon on holiday and everyone was safe and well.
A Police Scotland spokesman this morning said: “This remains a live missing persons’ appeal.”
Previously, Sergeant Martin MacDougall, said: “Inquiries were launched as the result of a well-intentioned and legitimate concern call made by a partner agency.
“As highlighted in our earlier appeals for information, while social media can be extremely useful in tracing missing people, we have to be completely satisfied of the welfare of all those reported before we stand down our investigations, in particular when young children are involved.”
“We are still in the process of officially confirming the exact location of the Hendry family with assistance from international counterparts and will provide an update as soon as we can.”
Daniela Goncalves, 21, and partner Mark Hendry posted a Facebook Live with their two tots on their first family holiday in Lisbon, Portugal — to prove to officers they are safe.
It came after cops smashed into their home in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, when a report that they’d vanished is thought to have sparked fears for their kids’ safety.
But after sharing the pic with six-week-old baby Chantelle and son Mark, one, at her side, baffled Daniela said in a social media video message: “We’re not missing. Nobody kidnapped us. We’re okay. We’re fine. the kids are fine — look.”
Of officers breaking into their home, she added: “My neighbours said there is glass everywhere. This is a nightmare.”
15 April 2018
The NHS has been urged to stop handing confidential data over to immigration officials, with claims sensitive records have been treated “like the Yellow Pages”.
Dr Wollaston said information was being handed over routinely, when it could not be justified.
She said: “There is a clear ethical principle that address data held for the purposes of health and care should only be shared for law enforcement purposes in the case of serious crime. NHS Digital’s decision to routinely share information with the Home Office with a lower threshold is entirely inappropriate.
“This behaviour calls into question NHS Digital’s ability to robustly act on behalf of patients in the event of other data sharing requests including from other government departments in the future.”
“It is absolutely crucial that the public have confidence that those at the top of NHS Digital have both an understanding of the ethical principles underpinning confidentiality and the determination to act in the best interests of patients.”
During hearings of the committee, charities said the situation had left immigrants frightened to seek help, even when their life was at risk, with one case where a domestic worker died because she feared the attention of the authorities after contracting pneumonia.
23 April 2018
How does it come about that concern with human dignity and well-being has been so widely corrupted into mandatory requirements to do certain things regardless of what the individual in question might choose to do? How does it come about that a right to education has been corrupted into a mandatory requirement to attend school, however unsatisfactory that schooling may be? How does it come about that a right to a happy home life has been corrupted into a duty for parents to conform to a long list of bureaucratic specifications enforced by state-appointed guardians?
24 April 2018
The latest minutes from the echo chamber aka the ‘independent’ panel seeking to circumvent the GDPR and human rights. Of note is the attendance of Mr Proportionality himself: Alan Small, Vice Chair of Child Protection Committees Scotland (on behalf of Ann Houston, Child Protection Committees Scotland).
Rather than deal with the thorny issue of consent, ‘non-binding’ flowcharts are seemingly the way to go (seriously?), and there are yet more references to ‘liability’ for getting it wrong lyig at the door of the ‘service’ rather than the individual practitioner (who will be named and shamed regardless).
Maria Galli, Child Protection Officer from South Ayrshire Council labours under the mis-apprehension that GIRFEC is rooted in children’s rights when it is actually rooted in compulsory state dictated outcomes for every child, whether they agree with them or not.
Ms Galli informed the Panel that the Group recommends the production of Interim Guidance to be issued to all those with duties under Parts 4, 5 and 18 (Sec 96) of the Act to ensure those working in the system are clear about their roles, responsibilities and current procedures while the Bill completes its passage through parliament.
Let’s hope it bears some resemblance to the law and gets the threshold right, which current guidance does not.
ACTION: Alice Bayles, GIRFEC Policy Team Leader to be invited to the Panel meeting in June to provide an overview of the current understanding around existing good practice that could inform the development of wider guidance for Parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
Members discussed whether an information campaign highlighting current good practice in terms of the GIRFEC approach would help to mitigate confusion and reinforce confidence amongst practitioners and families before an authoritative draft Code of Practice is presented to the Education and Skills Committee, or not.
Existing good practice? If based on current guidance, uncorrected since the Supreme Court judgment, current practice which mandates information processing below the child protection threshold remains unlawful in the absence of informed consent. There is no confusion to mitigate, only lies on the part of government.
Members discussed the risks associated with having a legally binding flowchart, namely, that missing a step could result in a breach of the law. Some members felt that a non-binding flowchart would however be very helpful and requested that this could be enhanced as a decision making tool with additional focus on human rights, and a wider focus on the wellbeing of the child, rather than child protection. Members from a practitioner perspective welcomed a more detailed flowchart explicitly covering consent, clarity on who they should seek advice from when sharing information and clear information on decision making at a wellbeing level.
How many more times do they need to be told that consent is everything at the subjective ‘wellbeing level’, and that no means no? Otherwise we have to call it what it is: data rape.
Members suggested that the National Guidance on child protection was a good example of helpful and accessible guidance for practitioners.
Except the current national child protection guidance, revised in 2014, cites the wrong threshold for non-consensual information processing because it was copied straight from an ICO ‘memo’ issued to CPPs in 2013 (without legal basis or parliamentary scrutiny), which had to be withdrawn following the Supreme Court ruling in 2016. The plot has been thickening ever since as repeated attempts are made to circumvent the law.
Here is a couple of wee reminders for the ‘independent’ panel from the (2004) 19th report of the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (for which no equivalent exists at Holyrood where a ‘tribal’ committee system has failed to properly scrutinise legislation for human rights compliance):
|We are concerned that, if the justification for information-sharing about children is that it is always proportionate where the purpose is to identify children who need child welfare services, there is no meaningful content left to a child’s Article 8 right to privacy and confidentiality in their personal information.|
|…the Minister argued that the “outcomes do not conflict with [children’s] rights under the CRC, but should be seen as a practical complement to those rights”. We are not altogether persuaded by these claims. Indeed, we are disappointed by the tone of the Government’s message that “rights-based” is a negative concept—we have stressed again and again in our reports that a culture of respect for human rights is one in which the emphasis is laid on the positive obligation on the State to advance the rights of those in its jurisdiction.|
It all sounds so familiar: rebranding rights as wellbeing outcomes and confusing the public sector duty to offer ‘services’ as a power to compel their uptake.
As we have repeatedly reminded GIRFEC proponents, rights are not synonymous with state dictated wellbeing outcomes. Furthermore, the legal necessity test needs to be met before interference with Article 8 rights becomes permissible – and even then, such interference must be foreseeable, proportionate and the minimum required to achieve the intended aim (which must also satisfy Article 8(2) of the Convention). Whereas child protection constitutes a legitimate aim in which there is clear, substantial public interest, imposing state-dictated wellbeing outcomes does not meet the applicable tests for non-consensual information processing, as confirmed by the UK Supreme Court. No matter how legitimate the aim, it may never be pursued by totalitarian means.
25 April 2018
Swinney accused over charity lobbying (The Times)
In a response to a parliamentary question in December, he said that the “only” government contact between October 25 and November 8 with a string of children’s organisations came on October 25, 26 and November 8. However, in response to a question last week, he said that special advisers, who are not bound by civil service rules around impartiality, “engaged” with Social Work Scotland twice, and Children 1st, Aberlour and Children in Scotland once, in the time period.
The contact was not disclosed in the earlier response. The groups, with the exception of Children 1st, went on to sign a letter to the committee, on November 6, urging MSPs to back the legislation.
27 April 2018
Hundreds of “invisible” home-schooled children at risk of neglect and abuse could be tracked down as police embark on a radical approach.
For the first time officers have begun conducting welfare checks on homeschooled children amid concerns they are slipping off the authorities’ radar.
The project, which is being pioneered in Co Durham, will identify children who have not been in contact with police, doctors or local authorities in 18 months. Under the pilot scheme, which began in the Darlington borough last year, the police will pay home visits to those families to check on the child. Simon Bailey, the national police spokesman for child protection, is urging other forces to try a similar approach.
If anyone thinks it is acceptable or proportionate for the police to target and abuse the human rights of home educating families who do not require (or have been damaged by) state services, just think about who will be next subset of parents singled out for licensing after a suitably orchestrated campaign of demonisation by ermine-clad, unelected, ex-probation officer coffin dodgers, morally bankrupt academics punting policy-based evidence, authoritarian state agents on power trips, and other useful idiots noised up by the media. Vegetarians? Travellers? Disabled people? Foreigners? This is an outrageous abuse of human rights and data protection legislation, full stop.
28 April 2018
Finland embraces data sharing for the collective wellbeing – allegedly consent-based, but if “data is the new oil”, every citizen’s details will be harvested routinely from womb to tomb, whether they like it or not.
1 May 2018
The Paedophiles’ Manifesto (Twitter thread)
I decided to take this out of my replies to some tweets and do a thread because this ‘Paedophile Manifesto’ is so chilling it needs its own analysis and exposure. I'm only half way through as it is just making me so angry.
— Dr EM (@PankhurstEM) May 1, 2018
As the screen-shot excerpts from vile document show, there have been renewed attempts by paedophiles to repackage child abuse as a rights/equality and diversity issue while painting dissent as bigotry – exactly the tactics used to seek to discredit the NO2NP campaign.
The Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) successfully hijacked the civil liberties agenda in the 70s and even managed to affiliate to the NCCL (Liberty’s predecessor) before being banned in the early 80s. See Ian Pace’s blog for links and copy of ‘Betrayal of Youth’ (1986).
Peter Newell’s conviction (see 16 February entry above) is a further reminder that the children’s rights industry was driven by a child rapist. Unfettered access to children and their data is an obsession of the so-called ‘safeguarding’ / wellbeing promotion industries. ContactPoint (abolished in 2010 by the UK coalition government after serious security flaws were exposed amidst a backlash from privacy groups, social work experts and the public) was known as the paedophiles’ address book, while the Scottish GIRFEC/wellbeing agenda – driven by universal non-consensual data theft – has been described as the new paedophile information exchange.
3 May 2018
Lesley Scott and Alison Preuss on behalf of Tymes Trust and Scottish Home Education Forum (joint petitioners)
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to initiate an independent public inquiry into the impact on human rights of the routine gathering and sharing of citizens’ personal information on which its Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) policy relies.
9 May 2018
Scots parents petition parliament for public inquiry into ‘illegal’ data sharing (joint press release)
Joint petitioners to the Scottish Parliament are calling for a public inquiry into the human rights impact of the government’s getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) policy and allied named person scheme, which they say has unleashed an illegal data-sharing regime that has infringed family privacy and led to a breakdown in trust in public services.
Lesley Scott and Alison Preuss, on behalf of Tymes Trust and the Scottish home education forum, have submitted their petition to highlight the problems created by the premature roll-out of illegal data-mining and sharing practices set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which were later struck down by the UK’s highest court.
With assistance from concerned families, they have amassed a raft of evidence of professional misconduct and data misuse – mostly by councils and the NHS, but also the third sector – via freedom of information and statutory subject access requests.
16 May 2018
Holyrood staff refused demands from civil servants working for the Scottish government to hand over the identities of committee witnesses, it has been revealed.
One clerk was so concerned about “inappropriate” requests about their work scrutinising the SNP’s “named person” policy that they objected to senior colleagues.
According to emails released under freedom of information, clerks in the parliament also refused a request from the government to have an official sit in on a focus group, and raised concerns that inaccurate information was provided by the government when it came under pressure to explain its actions.
23 May 2018
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 were pleased to see clearer information on sharing with and without consent. 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. [Did they all really miss key sections of the Supreme Court judgment?]
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.
Deja vu – keeping the public in the dark
11 June 2018
An investigation by The Courier has revealed shocking oversights in the rollout of Yammer — a Microsoft application available as part of Glow, Education Scotland’s national “digital learning platform”.
Within minutes of accessing the application, The Courier was able to uncover conversation threads where drugs and alcohol were being offered to young children, along with addresses for where these could be purchased.
In one instance, an individual with a misspelling of the word paedophile in his username was seen asking young girls for the location of a sleepover and offering to bring a variety of illegal substances. He later wrote to another profile: “Come to mine. Drugs, alcohol and ice cream supplied.”
Education Scotland acknowledged in their own privacy impact assessment that there “may be a greater likelihood of inappropriate content and behaviour “following the introduction of Yammer to the Glow platform”.
However, the system’s “keyword monitoring facility” — designed to flag up concerning terms in private or public conversations — appears to be unable to recognise even slightly modified spellings of concerning phrases.
In another section dealing with worries that “learners could be identified and located by someone who would wish to do them harm”, it is written that stakeholders had decided “the educational benefit of this functionality outweighs the risk”.
Large numbers of parents were reportedly not made aware that their children had been signed up for the social networking tool or asked permission for their information to be shared.
“The decision to give pupils access to the system rests with the relevant education establishment and local authority, and it would be for them to decide on seeking parental consent.”
11 June 2018
NATIONAL PERFORMANCE FRAMEWORK – CONFERENCE
Hosted by Scottish Government with the support from Carnegie UK Trust, this event celebrates the 10th anniversary of Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF) and explores international outcomes-based working.
I want to start by paying tribute to the work of Sir John Elvidge, a good friend and colleague, a former Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, and now playing a key role in the Carnegie Trust. John had the vision for the concept of outcomes and it was his leadership that brought about the SG’s first Framework.
We ran a massive education programme for senior officials. And we established the Scottish Leaders’ Forum so all of Scotland’s public, higher education, police, fire and third sector most senior leadership came together as a force for change and outcomes.
Whitehall was fascinated and referred to our new approach as ‘the Scottish Experiment’. Ten years on and the experiment is our reality.
The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 means the outcomes approach continues no matter which political party or parties are in government. It requires Scottish Ministers to determine a set of national outcomes to which all Scottish public bodies contribute, and then to report progress on them.
11 June 2018
SPICe briefing on parliamentary petition: PE01692: Inquiry into the human rights impact of GIRFEC policy and data processing
13 June 2018
Petition closed for signatures and lodged with the Public Petitions Committee.
Twitter thread by @homeedforums outlines the reasons for demand for an independent public inquiry.
13 June 2018
Intervention 201702106: Scottish Government (SICO report published)
In a humiliating intervention, the Scottish Information Commissioner* Daren Fitzhenry called on the Government to end its practice of treating journalists, MSPs and political researchers differently “because of who or what they are”.
His report found: “Journalists, together with MSPs and political researchers, are expressly made subject to a different process for clearance than other requester groups.
“This is inconsistent with the applicant-blind principle of FoI legislation. Their requ*ests are almost invariably subjected to an additional layer of clearance which is likely to delay consideration of the case.”
* The Scottish ICO deals with FOI legislation, whereas the Ass. Scottish ICO (involved with GIRFEC threshold lowering) deals with data protection issues in Scotland
13 June 2018
Twitter thread on the need for a public inquiry into the impact on human rights of GIRFEC data processing.
— Home Education Forums (@homeedforums) June 13, 2018
17 June 2018
Mail on Sunday reports public bodies continuing to flout the Supreme Court ruling.
19 June 2018
Parents report that NHS Grampian has been sending an outdated (2014) leaflet to parents of children entering P1 & S1 in August, which pre-dates the Supreme Court ruling (2016) and GDPR (2018) and describes GIRFEC ‘wellbeing’ data processing without consent by a ‘named nurse’ and multiple agencies.
22 June 2018
Natalie Whyte: “Our lives were turned completely upside down. We were reported to social work, public protection and the police on suspicion of abusing our seven-week-old son.
“He had been suffering from what the health visitor advised was just a bit of colic which is apparently very common in babies that age, however we kept reporting that we were convinced there was something not right with him.”
“My health visitor came round. She started asking me if Lucy would have hurt Callan and been too scared to tell me. Lucy was in the house at the time and heard her say this. She was distraught that anyone would think she would hurt her baby brother.
“She skated around asking me if it was Marc and began asking me if I felt safe around him and if I thought my kids were safe in my home.
“That night the paediatrician told us this was an abuse investigation and that if we tried to leave the hospital with our son we would both be arrested.”
“We knew something wasn’t right. The emotional distress this has caused us has really affected us.”
“I really don’t want this to happen to other families. We totally realise we have to have these child protection laws in place. But I believe there needs to be further testing before they get to that.”
Det Insp David Howieson of Police Scotland said: “When concerns about children are raised to police – no matter the nature – they must be taken seriously until the full circumstances are established.
“In this case, a report was received from a partner agency and inquiries were subsequently carried out, with all those involved updated at each stage.”
[These parents will never recover from the experience and it was fortuitous that they were able to obtain an expert’s opinion as the health visitor (who was the baby’s named person) appeared to have no experience or knowledge of common infant allergies. If health visitors have no clue about their own alleged specialism of child health, it is even more worrying to have them pontificate (equally unreliably) on education matters which has become increasingly common.]
26 June 2018
Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) Practice Development Panel meeting
“The Chair informed the Panel of his meeting with the Deputy First Minister to update him on progress made by the Panel on the draft Code of Practice for information sharing. The Chair confirmed that a letter would be issued to stakeholders informing of these developments. The Deputy First Minister was also informed of the CEL29, Local Authority and GIRFEC Lead Officer meetings which the Chair and Panel members attended.
The Panel were also updated on the discussion between the Chair and Ross Greer MSP which reflected cross party aspects and emphasis on stakeholder engagement.”
“The Panel were informed that the Legal Focus Group had a detailed discussion on consent and emphasis on a rights based approach to be included within the draft Code. Suggested amendments were made to provide more clarity around informing rights holders before their data could be shared.”
“The Chair concluded that the original September timescale as per the terms of reference may not be realistic in order to fulfil a meaningful engagement process. He will write to the Deputy First Minister to seek his views on this approach.
The Chair asked Panel members for views and suggestions on the stakeholder engagement process. Members suggested holding road shows events and workshops and how these events could be structured. Jennifer King encouraged engagement with children and young people, in line with this being the year of young people.”
28 June 2018
Public Petitions Committee hears evidence from Lesley Scott and Alison Preuss on behalf of Tymes Trust and Scottish Home Education Forum. Committee agreed to write to Scottish Government and the ICO.
29 June 2018
CAMPAIGNERS have called for an independent public inquiry into the human rights impact of Scottish ministers’ data-sharing policies.
They say the Scottish Government’s Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) policy and early implementation of its named person scheme have led to unlawful data collection and a loss of trust in services among families.
Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, a charity for children with ME, and Alison Preuss of the Scottish Home Education Forum, submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament highlighting issues with the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which legislates for the named person regime as part of the GIRFEC approach.
Also reported in the Daily Mail :
and the Herald:
Children, Learning, and the ‘Evaluative Gaze’ of School (by Carol Black)
How a watched pot loses the desire to boil.
6 july 2018
A sub-group to provide legal insight for the GIRFEC Practice Development Panel.
This Legal Group includes members from the GIRFEC Panel and various legal organisations from the public and third sectors:
- Maureen Falconer, Information Commissioner’s Office
- Norma Shippin, Central Legal Office, NHS National Services Scotland)
- Peter Hessett, Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators in Scotland
- Dr Kenny Meechan, Head of Information Governance Glasgow City Council Corporate and Property Law and member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Privacy Law Committee
- Maria Galli, Child Protection Officer from South Ayrshire Council
- Alison Reid, Principal Solicitor and Chief Executive of CLAN Childlaw
Minutes were only published after a FOI request was made:
AR believes that SG should not legislate around information sharing. From her perspective, it is unnecessary, repeats and further complicates the existing legal framework, and risks increasing human rights challenges around accessibility and foreseeability.
The group were in agreement that there were no issues with sharing of information
where there was a risk of significant harm. It was suggested by a member of the
group that the difficulty often comes when the issue falls below the significant harm
trigger but the practitioner believes that the child is on a pathway that is more likely
than not to result in significant harm.
However, it was suggested that, arguably, there is no grey area in dealing with these
scenarios, as being on such a trajectory is, in itself, a risk of significant harm.
AR recognised that the Supreme Court thought that a code would be needed but that
her view was that they were thinking there would be a legislative scheme on
information sharing. AR expressed the view that if a legislative scheme on
information sharing was not taken forward, then a code would not be required. Once
there is a legislative scheme, the whole scheme including the Code and guidance
require to be ECHR compliant which means that it needs to meet the accessibility
and foreseeability tests. It means that the links between data protection, the law of
confidentiality, human rights, the Bill, the Code and the guidance need to be clear,
which is a challenge.
The group suggested that an algorithm* or flow chart could be helpful when deciding
whether to share information.
[* Profiling, in other words]
The group discussed that, in terms of GDPR, making the named person service
available would fall within the “public task” function. It was suggested that, unless
there was a risk of harm, the decision of whether or not to engage with the service
would be voluntary. As such, the “necessity” test would not apply if the parent or
child did not wish to engage with the service.
It was suggested that, where the threshold is below the risk of harm, it would be
likely that consent would be required prior to any data sharing taking place. The
group once again highlighted the difficulties with obtaining freely given, unambiguous
consent, in circumstances where there is an imbalance of power; however, it was
highlighted that the complexities of this were very much dependent on the facts of
each individual case.
It was suggested that, even where sharing information is considered to fall within a
public task/public interest function, an Article 8 ECHR proportionality assessment
would still require to be carried out, in order to ensure that there would be no
disproportionate interference with an individual’s right to private and family life.
AR highlighted that, in her organisation’s view, if you did not legislate on information
sharing, then there would be no legislative scheme to challenge. However, by
legislating in order to restate the legal position, the risk of challenge against an Act of
the Scottish Parliament is opened up.
Discussion on what constitutes welfare, wellbeing, and child protection concerns
It was noted by the Chair that the Panel had asked the legal focus group to discuss
what constitutes welfare, wellbeing or child protection concerns. It was understood
that, in particular, the Panel were interested in knowing where the line is on when
information can be shared without consent.
The legal focus group indicated that the assessment of “wellbeing” is contained
within section 96 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The
relevant legislation related to welfare and child protection considerations can be
found at section 67 of the Children’s Hearing (Scotland) Act 2011.
It was suggested that, firstly, you would need to explore whether or not there was a
relevant statutory duty. If there was, then you would have to explore whether or not
it was a safety or health matter. If it was a safety or health matter, then potentially
you would not need to obtain consent in order to share information, however, you
would still have to consider whether or not sharing information in each particular
case would be compatible with Article 8 ECHR.
[Risk to a vague notion of wellbeing does not constitute one of the exemptions listed in Article 8(2) of the ECHR, as confirmed by the Supreme Court]
“AR saying that she doesn’t think that a grey area exists below the child protection threshold, as ultimately, you reach a point where an Article 8 ECHR test has to be met. It was noted that it would depend on how you interpreted the risk of significant harm. If you interpreted it widely then there would be no real gap.”
[Maybe they didn’t read the judgment?]
11 July 2018
No public consultation (or seemingly legal advice) before Thurrock Council agrees to contract private company Xantura to provide universal snooping solution via joining up of data sets that do not relate to child protection or safeguarding and therefore breaches GDPR and several UK Supreme Court and EU judgments (including Named Person and Bara).
2. Introduction and Background
2.1 The Children Act 2004 emphasises the importance of safeguarding children
by stating that relevant partner agencies – which include the police, children’s
services authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the NHS
Commissioning Board – must make sure that functions are discharged having
regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
2.2 The Act also states that they must make arrangements to promote cooperation
between relevant partner agencies to improve the well-being of
children in their area. Well-being is defined by the Act as relating to a child’s:
1. physical and mental health and emotional well-being (‘be healthy’)
2. protection from harm and neglect (‘stay safe’)
3. education, training and recreation (‘enjoy and achieve’)
4. the contribution made by them to society (‘make a positive
5. social and economic well-being (‘achieve economic well-being’)
2.3 The Early Help Profiling System (EHPS) uses data from multi-agency sources
to identify children that are showing an increasing pattern of alerting features.
The model provides a secure system to push information to safeguarding
professionals – generating alerts for high risk children that are not already in
the safeguarding system but where it is likely that maltreatment is either
already occurring or is likely to occur in the near future.
[This was held to be arbitrary interference by the UK Supreme Court in 2016 as the measures lack accessibility, foreseeability and a precise legal definition of wellbeing. The court also crucially upheld the threshold for compulsory interference as risk of significant harm, not wellbeing, while Bara (CJEU 2015) requires prior notification of data subjects where their information is to be shared between administrative bodies. Both render this scheme unlawful as the statutory gateway cited does not, and cannot, extend to breaching Article 8 of the ECHR.]
From the Xantura website:
Xantura will help you identify these families by joining up the small signals and triggering a request into existing systems such as the MASH, front door or Early Help system.
The System pulls together data from multi-agency sources to build a single view of a child and a single view of the household.
Scores are applied to the data and the system identifies those children, and families, who are statistically most likely to benefit from earlier, or additional support.
[Reminiscent of IBM’s eugenicist punch card system which was researched by Edwin Black]
SEEMiS database used for profiling purposes (link no longer publicly accessible after sharing on social media)
An ‘override consent’ box in the SEEMiS (pupil database) wellbeing application allows the pulling together of information to create individual profiles (that would be extremely sought after on the dark web since vulnerable children’s details can be called up with a few mouse clicks) . Around 8:30 into the video is the override consent instruction and it becomes apparent that ‘named person’ has been re-named as ‘establishment contact’ (EC). There is a box for a VPD (Vulnerable Persons Database) reference on one of the pages and information from external sources can be uploaded to pupil records, allowing sensitive data to be scraped from anywhere in the system and saved to a word file for sharing. The video is infected with GIRFEC and SHANARRI ‘tools’ which require sensitive information to be recorded for both pupils and family members on the basis of subjectively perceived ‘wellbeing’, with no requirement to obtain GDPR-compliant consent for the processing.
Video and tutorial were suddenly removed from public view after being shared on social media. For the avoidance of doubt (or denial that the instructions are current), the video was uploaded on 13 February 2018. Reported by Mail on Sunday on 22 July 2019
13 July 2018
Chair of the ‘independen’ panel asks John Swinney for more time to come up with a code of practice that has any hope of satisfy the Supreme Court judgment.
Meanwhile Perth & Kinross Council is still displaying this flowchart on its website which cites an unlawful threshold in order to promote unlawful data processing by practitioners. Has anyone seen the ICO? Perhaps too busy investigating Facebook for conducting exactly the same illegal profiling activities and hasn’t the foggiest what is going on (or condones it)?
The delay is yet another embarrassment for the Government after a string of setbacks to its revised Named Person legislation.
In November 2017, Holyrood’s Education Committee demanded an “authoritative draft” of the Code before any more progress was permitted.
The draft Code supplied to them was so complicated, the Law Society Scotland advised practitioners to have their lawyers on speed dial.
Eight months on, it does not appear that Swinney’s panel has been able to resolve this.
In a way, the Code is emblematic of a wider attempt by the Government to persuade the Scottish public that the Named Person policy is workable.
See also Sunday Times article of 22 July 2018
(Minutes of legal sub-committee meetings were obtained via FOI and appeared several weeks later on a page published on 6 July).
18 July 2018
Lady Hale delivers a judgment that dismisses an appeal but upholds the compulsion threshold test by setting out definitive guidance for councils on the lawfulness of voluntary accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
19 July 2018
Speech in full by Lady Hale to Scottish Public Law Group, Edinburgh, on 14 June 2018: Devolution and The Supreme Court – 20 Years On
22 July 2018
Named persons to ‘override consent’ (Mail on Sunday)
See also entry for 12 July 2018
22 July 2018
Delay sparks new call to abandon ‘snoopers charter’ (Sunday Times)
Also reported in the Scotsman
[See also entry for 13 July 2018}
24 July 2018
We should all fear the SNP’s vice-like grip on power (Graham Grant, Medium)
Named Person is now the ultimate zombie policy, staggering towards an ill-defined future, mainly because ministers are too afraid to put it out of its misery.
But the charity sector – large swathes of which are now effectively an arm of government – is still doing its damnedest to keep it alive.
It’s a costly life support machine, but the handsomely remunerated fat cats who run the ‘third sector’ know they daren’t challenge such a flagship policy, even if it’s rapidly sinking…
Young Scot, which received almost £2million in public money last year and campaigns among 11 to 26-year-olds, said it ‘might be a good idea to unfollow news channel accounts’ because they ‘mostly just post negative news’.
Those who don’t share a ‘common understanding of what the country wants’, as Miss Hyslop put it, are in fact guilty of lacking a ‘common understanding’ of what the SNP wants – and it seems that alone is enough to render them pariahs.
[The right connections being made here and many more Scots are realising that (state- defined , non-negotiable, compulsory) outcomes-based, single-entity government amounts to dictatorship.]
12 August 2018
Government ready with Plan B for Named Person (Scotland on Sunday)
Anti-Named Person campaigners have accused the Scottish Government of trying to implement the controversial scheme by the back door even if the legislation fails. The accusation was made after documents retrieved via Freedom of Information showed that having a “Plan B” if MSPs reject the proposals was discussed at a meeting of unnamed government officials and advisers. A note of the meeting held in February made a list under the heading of “Contingency”. One point made was: “Plan B for if bill falls to make sure parts 4&5 can be implemented without information sharing.” Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act specifically refers to the Named Person scheme.
The Scottish government is considering proposals to implement the controversial named person scheme “by the back door” even if MSPs refuse to support changes to the law.
Also in Mail on Sunday
13 August 2018
Daily Mail coverage and comment
22 August 2018
Schools in new Big Brother data row (Daily Mail)
24 August 2018
Perth & Kinross Council data breach (reported in the Courier)
1 September 2018
Blog post based on information from this FOI response and other public records.
… I received a lengthy FOI response from the Scottish government that included details of a September 2017 meeting of GIRFEC Lead Officers who had been plotting the progress of the Children and Young People (Information Sharing)(Scotland) Bill. The notes revealed anxiety about a possible legal challenge to the new legislation if ‘resistors’ (that would include us) considered it not to meet the terms of the 2016 Supreme Court judgment. That ruling had effectively neutered the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 by striking down the sections that would have permitted a data-sharing free-for-all. Of course, that particular horse had already bolted because the stable door had been wedged wide open since 2013, a year before the legislation was passed and three years before its unlawful provisions were due to come into force.
Key points from small group discussions during that meeting were also listed in the notes, including the thorny issue of consent for information processing below the vital interests threshold and the fact that consent did not appear on the face of the bill. While some practitioners were said to be ‘scared about sharing’ and ‘risk averse’, Police Scotland was reported as having created issues for local authorities as it ‘does not feel like it needs to comply [and] will continue to operate a no consent model’.
5 September 2018
The State of Surveillance in 2018 (Big Brother Watch)
The report details the growing normalisation of surveillance of children,
preparing the next generation for monitoring and profiling – and reveals the
ways in which this is already stigmatising vulnerable children.
Like the example of the Troubled Families Programme64 shows, where
families only have to match 2 criteria to be considered ‘troubled’, interventions
are decided on a national level, even if carried out locally. Thus, surveillance
through data can have effects with a permanency and authority that paper
records previously did not have.
Complaints from staff and students made to defenddigitalme have included
concerns about the breadth of data available to a wide range of staff,
creating the risk of profiling and screening by ethnicity, religion, student
and/or parental wealth which could have adverse effects on the treatment
of students by staff, even if the intention was to be beneficial.
Political agendas change. Children’s Schools Census data has already
been misused to identify undocumented migrant children and their family
members. The UK has effectively registered all Roma families through their
children’s school records — what if a future government decided on a Roma
policy as discussed in Italy in the summer of 2018?
If a child is an undocumented migrant, an ethnic minority, a non-conformist,
or simply not liked by staff, some of the current school software and
surveillance systems are more likely to pick them out for intervention than
their classmates. Systemic unfairness encoded into data and algorithms, is
given an authority it does not deserve. DData can be badly understood and result in harmful false predictions and mistaken conclusions. Children are, by default, being disempowered from understanding or correcting decisions and predictions made about them.’
5 September 2018
Questions over named person scheme in the Highlands (Inverness Courier)
HIGHLAND Council is being urged to review its role in the SNP’s controversial “named person” policy that it helped pilot for the Scottish Government.
Opposition Conservative group leader Andrew Jarvie will propose at tomorrow’s full council meeting in Inverness that a rethink is timely with an imminent change of local authority’s care and learning directorship.
Current director Bill Alexander, an architect of the scheme in Highland, is due to retire later this year.
In a pre-submitted question to the director, Cllr Jarvie asked how the scheme operated and how it differed from what was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court.
5 September 2018
Z-listers (Scottish Review)
Article based around this timeline released via FOI.
Even before the ink was dry on the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) Scotland bill – introduced by John Swinney last June after his original state guardian scheme was blocked by the Supreme Court – government officials were predicting a bumpy ride for the new legislation.
At a ‘GIRFEC engagement on information sharing’ meeting with named person service providers the very next day, a forward plan was drawn up to help smooth the bill’s passage through parliament in anticipation of implementation by the end of 2018. Released in note form as part of the response to a freedom of information request, the timeline covered the period ‘going forward’ from June 2017 to December 2018.
However, these unnamed crystal ball gazers all failed to predict the education and skills committee’s unprecedented decision to delay the legislation due to an inadequate accompanying code of practice; nor did they foresee the bitter rows over alleged witness tampering and complaints by parliamentary clerks of government interference. So much for the government’s blind faith in ‘prevention science’ and early intervention to avoid such poor outcomes.
Among the more bizarre entries, for August 2018, was a proposal to recruit J K Rowling as a magic wand-waving champion for the flagging ‘getting it right for every child’ (GIRFEC) policy in order to ‘countermine the likes of Alexander McCall Smith’ and other unnamed ‘Z-listers’. The caustic reference to the celebrated ‘No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ author and lawyer, Sandy McCall Smith, was presumably prompted by the newspaper serialisation of his latest book, ’44 Scotland Street,’ in which one character decried the named person legislation as grossly insulting to parents for ‘insisting that every child in Scotland should have an official guardian.’
6 September 2018
National press pick up on Scottish Review article, including the Express, Mail, Times, Herald and Scotsman.
10 September 2018
A continuing attempt to blur the boundary between child protection and state dictated wellbeing (wellbehaving) outcomes. Any claimed ‘necessity’ needs to comply with Article 8 as per the Supreme Court ruling, so the processing of ‘wellbeing’ information (i.e. subjective opinions of SHANARRI worshippers, aka ‘professional judgement’ in GIRFEC Scotspeak) is not lawful in the absence of informed consent.
The Fife letter cited by the ‘Conflation Minister’ is exclusively related to the protection of children and vulnerable adults and makes no mention of ‘wellbeing’.
10 September 2018
Petitioners’ joint submission to Public Petitions Committee in response to submissions by Scottish Government and ICO.
13 September 2018
UK mass surveillance ruled unlawful in landmark judgment (Big Brother Watch)
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) today ruled that the UK’s mass interception programmes breached the Article 8 right to privacy enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Court found that the UK’s mass surveillance programmes, revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, did ‘not meet the “quality of law” requirement’ and were ‘incapable of keeping the “interference” to what is “necessary in a democratic society”’.
The landmark judgment marks the Court’s first ruling on UK mass surveillance programmes revealed by Mr Snowden. The case was started in 2013 by campaign groups Big Brother Watch, English PEN, Open Rights Group and computer science expert Dr Constanze Kurz following Mr Snowden’s revelation of GCHQ mass spying. The legal challenge was made possible by the crowdfunded ‘Privacy Not Prism‘ campaign. Over 1,400 people together contributed nearly £30,000 to the legal fund.
16 September 2018
[See also entry for 11 July 2018 re Thurrock Council and Xantura]
The Guardian has discovered at least five local authorities have developed or implemented a predictive analytics system for child safeguarding. At least 377,000 people’s data has been incorporated into the different predictive systems.
Hackney and Thurrock councils have both hired a private company, Xantura, to develop a predictive model for their children’s services teams. Two other councils, Newham and Bristol, have developed their own systems internally. Brent council is developing a system to predict vulnerability to gang exploitation.
One contract obtained by the Guardian reveals the sheer range of council data being considered for inclusion in a predictive model: school attendance and exclusion data, housing association repairs and arrears data, and police records on antisocial behaviour and domestic violence are all among the desired datasets, though some were later excluded from final models.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which regulates the use of personal data by public and private bodies, said it would be asking questions of councils using predictive analytics to ensure they were compliant with data protection law.
The Guardian obtained details of all predictive indicators considered for inclusion in Thurrock council’s child safeguarding system. They include history of domestic abuse, youth offending and truancy.
More surprising indicators such as rent arrears and health data were initially considered but excluded from the final model. In the case of both Thurrock, a council in Essex, and the London borough of Hackney, families can be flagged to social workers as potential candidates for the Troubled Families programme. Through this scheme councils receive grants from central government for helping households with long-term difficulties such as unemployment.
Automated profiling raises difficult questions about the legal basis on which it is carried out. Councils do not seek explicit consent for this kind of data processing, instead relying on legal gateways such as the Children’s Act.
“A council will say it has processed personal data in this way because it has a legal obligation to protect the welfare of children. However, this doesn’t give them a blanket opt-out of all data protection provisions,” said Michael Veale, a researcher in public sector machine learning at University College London.
“For ‘child abuse data’ the law allows them to refuse to provide information about specific cases, but they still need to give certain information proactively in advance, such as the general way that their systems work.”
a separate privacy impact assessment, released in response to a freedom of information request earlier this year, stated: “Data subjects will not be informed, informing the data subjects would be likely to prejudice the interventions this project is designed to identify.” Hackney refused to tell the Guardian what datasets it was using for its predictive model.
17 September 2018
Machine learning could help caring professionals, but it could never replace them (Guardian editorial)
The augmentation or replacement of social workers with machine learning is the possibility raised by our report that five English councils are trialling software which will help to pick out families and children in need of intervention. It is not the only danger of the projects. There are obvious problems around informed consent: as far back as 2012, Dame Louise Casey took the view that demanding informed consent for the use of the relevant data damaged society as a whole and particularly its most vulnerable members. This is not what the Guardian believes. Nor, after the GDPR, is it what the law allows.
18 September 2018
Leave no dark corner (ABC)
China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, “social credit” will bring privileges — for others, punishment.
19 September 2018
Don’t trust algorithms to predict child-abuse risk (Guardian Letters)
Backlash building over predictive analytics across social media as the result of Guardian articles (not that they were news to those who have been paying attention). Calls for Judicial Review growing.
1 October 2018
New Police Super-Database Raises Privacy Concerns (Rights Info)
A new super-database being developed for the police could severely harm our right to privacy, according to civil liberties campaigners.
The advocacy group Liberty, known as ‘the watchdog for people’s rights’, believes the super-database poses a ‘grave‘ threat to privacy. Liberty has withdrawn from the Home Office’s public consultation in protest.
The law enforcement data service (LEDS) will combine the police national computer and the police national database with additional databases to create a ‘super-database.’
The police national computer holds criminal convictions and, according to the College of Policing, ‘provides real-time checks on people, vehicles, crimes and property.’ It also links to the European-wide Schengen Information System.
The police national database shares ‘local information and intelligence on a national basis’ with all police forces and wider criminal justice agencies in the UK.
A government document has highlighted that much of the information in the proposed super-database will not relate to criminal activity.
9 October 2018
Practitioners across a range of disciplines who work carefully and respectfully and operate within the bounds of their professional registrations are perhaps, like me, feeling slightly ill-at-ease in the wake of the recent “ACE-aware” movement.
Using a questionnaire asking patients about difficult events they had experienced in childhood – Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – they found that those with a higher number of ACEs were more likely to have physical health difficulties, engage in health-related risk-taking behaviours, suffer from mental ill health and report lower wellbeing ratings. Those with the most ACEs were more likely to die some 20 years earlier than those with less childhood trauma.
Knowing your ACE score as an adult or counting up the ACE scores of any children you know is foolhardy at best, and downright dangerous at worst. Firstly, using the ACE questionnaire – which was a retrospective, population-level questionnaire designed for white, middle-class, privately-insured adult Americans to reflect on their childhood experiences – is not valid or reliable when used with individual children or families.
Finally, this focus on only the number of negative events a child has experienced risks leaving the child and family feeling further disempowered and potentially re-traumatised, which, as any appropriately skilled practitioner will know, is contrary to the key principle of trauma-informed practice of helping the child regain a sense of control over their world.
Counting the ACE score of attendees at a one-off training event is a gimmick, the stuff of those who lack the wisdom to know that such activities have no impact on the children and families who require our support, and may potentially re-trigger members of the audience who have themselves suffered distressing times in the past.
17 October 2018
Meetings of Named Person Service providers (Scottish Government FOI release)
25 October 2018
Change.org petition urging the Scottish Children’s Commissioner to take action to protect rights of children whose data has been wilfully misused.
Under GiRFEC and Named Person Scheme, children and young people have been, and currently are, vulnerable to breaches of their UNCRC Article 16, 1 and 2, below, which, in relation to children and young people, is essentially ECHR Article 8, 1 and 2:
‘1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.
2. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.’
The Supreme Court ruling on Named Person stated “that the sharing of personal data between relevant public authorities is central to the role of the named person. As we have explained, this may well constitute an interference with the article 8 rights of those to whom the information relates. We are therefore satisfied that the operation of the information-sharing provisions of Part 4 (in particular, sections 23, 26 and 27) WILL result in INTERFERENCES with RIGHTS protected by article 8 of the ECHR.” (SC ruling 2016, para 78) (Emphasis added.)
“The promotion of the wellbeing of children and young people is not one of the aims listed in article 8(2) of the ECHR. At the most general level, it can be said to be linked to the economic wellbeing of the country… …the more tenuous the link between the objective pursued by the intervention (eg. that a child or young person should be “achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included”) and the achievement of one of the legitimate aims listed in article 8(2), the more difficult it will be to justify a significant interference with the individual’sprivate and family life. (SC ruling 2016, para 89) (Emphasis added.)
“Nonetheless, it can readily be foreseen that in practice the sharing and exchange of information between public authorities are likely to give rise to disproportionate interferences witharticle 8 rights”. (SC ruling 2016, para 88.) (Emphasis added.)
Although GiRFEC wellbeing data processing under GDPR breaches rights to privacy and family life, and in some cases attacks on children’s reputations, CYPCS have intimated this to be an ICO overlap. A data processing investigation would be limited to data rights breaches. It is the interference to Human Rights aspect that we focus on in our request for an investigation into the systematic breaching of Article 16, and not the Data Rights aspect.
1 November 2018
Report of SPSO decision notice on illegal data processing by Dufries & Galloway Council
8 November 2018
Committee failed to address the key issue of GIRFEC crimes already/currently being committed and referred it to the Education & Skills Comittee whose track record in spotting human rights breaches has been risible. Some supporters attended and many had sent submissions which had not been published.
18 November 2018
THE details of almost a million Scots are being held on a police database that breaks the UK’s anti-snooping laws.
Police Scotland promised to remove 250,000 people from the interim Vulnerable Persons Database (iVPD) last year after it was found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act. But the force has now admitted that a further 162,520 names have been added since then, taking the total to 968,791. The vast majority of people on the database have not been asked for permission for their details to be used, or even told about it.
19 November 2018
Comment by FOI requester:
— Gary Walsh 🌍 (@GaryWalsh1982) November 19, 2018
I'm told some schools are scoring #ACEs alongside subjective #SHANARRI profiling (to justify forced intervention) & #SDQ assessments, all w/out #consent & being added to #SEEMiS This #FOI response confirms 'proceed until apprehended' #datatheft approach urged by @JohnSwinney pic.twitter.com/b06SYYWkml
— Ali White (@Leahurst66) November 20, 2018
But it has been used since April (at least)…
Looking to improve your targeted support by adding Adverse Childhood Experiences to your tracker? See our exemplar. https://t.co/MclCb5bpzt
— Attainment Challenge (@attainmentscot) May 18, 2017
— Elizabeth Montgomery (@EdSAttainEDC) April 27, 2017
5 December 2018
Caroline Weatherill Memorial Lecture, Isle of Man Law Society, in which Lady Hale, President of the Supreme Court, referenced the named person judgment.
The spectre of the totalitarian state which tried to separate children from the subversive influence of their families loomed large. The Supreme Court recognised this in Christian Institute v Lord Advocate  UKSC 51, 2017 SC (UKSC) 29, the case which challenged the Scottish ‘named person’ scheme (para 73):
‘There is an inextricable link between the protection of the family and the protection of fundamental freedoms in liberal democracies. The noble concept in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration . . . is premised on difference. If we were all the same, we would not need to guarantee that individual differences should be respected. . . . Individual differences are the product of the interplay between the individual person and his upbringing and environment. Different upbringings produce different people. The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.’