GIRFEC chronology – the road to hellbeing

GIRFEC and the Cult of SHANARRI – a chronology of significant events on the road to hellbeing

See also this associated online chronology of significant events

This is a work in progress. Many of the links to original online sources have been deleted, but copies of documents saved by researchers are being added as they are located. 

1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017  2018


16 December 1991

UK ratified the UNCRC

The Convention must be seen as a whole: all the rights are linked and no right is more important that another. The right to relax and play (Article 31) and the right to freedom of expression (Article 13) have equal importance as the right to be safe from violence (Article 19) and the right to education (Article 28).

From the CYCPS website:

Article 12 You have the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously.

Being able to refuse: Article 12 doesn’t mean children and young people have to express an opinion if they don’t want to. They can refuse to give their opinion for any reason, and Article 12 shouldn’t be used to pressure them into giving it.

Article 16 You have the right to a private life. For example, you can keep a diary that other people are not allowed to see.

Access to records: The right to privacy means that children and young people should know what records are kept about them. They should have access to these records, be able to correct anything that’s wrong and get anything that’s been obtained illegally taken out. They should be able to complain if the people who keep the records don’t listen to them.


3 August 1992

Who Controls Our Children: How Public Schools Dumb Down Kids

An explanation of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) by Peg Luksik, Pennsylvania Parents’ Commission. The blueprint for Curriculum for Excellence / GIRFEC / SHANARRI outcomes defined by the state.

27 October 1992

Clyde Inquiry into the Removal of Children from Orkney

Report criticised social workers, police, Orkney Islands Council. Social workers’ training, methods, and judgement were given special condemnation, and the concept* of “ritual abuse” was said to be “not only unwarrantable at present, but may affect the objectivity of practitioners and parents.”

[* Notably vague concept, like the notion of wellbeing and indicators/outcomes which are open to wide and subjective interpretation.]


1 May 1993

What’s Wrong With Outcome-Based Education? Phyllis Schlafly Report

Outcome-Based Education tosses these traditional units out the window and replaces them with vague and subjective “learning outcomes” that cannot be measured objectively by standardized tests and for which there is no accountability to parents and taxpayers. OBE will make it virtually impossible to conduct any kind of tests that allow comparisons with students in other schools, other states, or prior years. Under OBE, grades have no relation to academic achievement and knowledge.


9 July 1995

Children (Scotland) Act 1995

An Act to reform the law of Scotland relating to children, to the adoption of children and to young persons who as children have been looked after by a local authority; to make new provision as respects the relationship between parent and child and guardian and child in the law of Scotland; to make provision as respects residential establishments for children and certain other residential establishments; and for connected purposes.


1 May 1997

UK General election returns New Labour

Under the leadership of Tony Blair, the Labour Party ended its 18 years in opposition and won the general election with a landslide victory, winning 418 seats, the most seats the party has ever held.


Protecting children – a shared responsibility (Guidance on Inter-Agency Co-operation)

Child protection in Scotland. Welfare of child paramount consideration; intervention must be justified; children’s views important; no order or requirement unless court or hearing considers it better than not making it.

16 July 1998

Data Protection Act 1998

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is a UK Act of Parliament which defines the law on the processing of data on identifiable living people and is the main piece of legislation that governs the data protection. Although the Act itself does not mention privacy, it was enacted to bring UK law into line with the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. In practice it provides a way for individuals to control information about themselves.

9 November 1998

Human Rights Act 1998

The HRA 1998 is a UK Act  which mostly came into force in October 2000. It incorporated into UK law the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Act makes a remedy for breach of a Convention right available in UK courts, without the need to go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg.


12 May 1999

Scottish Parliament reconvened

Scottish Parliament reconvened after 292 years. Labour and the Liberal Democrats formed the Scottish Executive, with Labour MSP Donald Dewar becoming First Minister.

19 June 1999

The Folly of Sweden’s State Controlled Families

A warning from Swedish lawyer and doctor Siv Westerberg of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights.

Sweden has, during the last decades, developed into a kind of socio-medical totalitarian state. A totalitarian state where families are deprived of the right to care for and educate their own children; and are deprived of the basic human right to both family life and private life.

The European history of the twentieth century has some horrible examples of how a democracy can turn into a totalitarian state. Mostly such a transformation is brought about by armed soldiers and policemen in uniform. Those soldiers and policemen use brutal physical violence against anyone who refuses to obey their orders. For every citizen in those states it is immediately obvious that those brutal servants of the state are their enemies. It is immediately obvious to the citizen that this is the end of freedom. From then on they know you are permitted just to say things or do things or even think things that the totalitarian state permits. Otherwise something very bad will happen to you.

But the development in Sweden towards a socio-medical totalitarian state wasn’t like that. In fact the army and the police have very little power in Sweden. Instead, the government achieved their totalitarian power by using persons whom the ordinary citizen believes to be their friends.

Where other European dictatorships once used policemen and armed soldiers to make the citizens obedient, the Swedish authorities use doctors, nurses, midwifes, teachers, pre-school teachers and child-care assistants to do their dirty work for them.

The Swedish authorities chose to ‘medicalize’ a lot of different features of daily life and to describe various kinds of quite normal behaviour as ‘pathological’. For instance, a fond and protective mother has been described as having an ‘unhealthy, symbiotic relationship’, with her child; it was enough to render her an unfit mother. Or take, for example, the fact that it is sometimes untidy in a house where a family where four small children are living. In Swedish court proceedings, that can be developed into a theory that the mother must have some psychiatric disease and that the children’s health is jeopardized when the house is untidy; because an expert, a child-psychiatrist, says so.

And for the ordinary citizen such a method is almost more dangerous than using armed soldiers and police. If you were a Jew in the nineteen-thirties in Nazi-Germany, you knew very well that the Gestapo was your enemy. You knew that it was wise to avoid having anything to do with them. But in Sweden they use officials whom you, in the beginning, believe are your friends.

Because most people believe that the midwife in the maternity welfare clinic, the doctor you consult when you or your children fall ill, your children’s teachers, the social officials that poor people meet when they have to ask for some economic support at the end of the month, – you believe that they are your friends, not your enemies. Initially these professional people are friendly; they seem to be really interested in you and your family’s wellbeing.

They are so friendly and nice to you that you get confidence in them. So you confide in them concerning your family’s life. You tell them that, as the mother of four small children, you are sometimes terribly tired and exhausted from all the jobs you have with the children. In that moment you can’t even dream that a few years later you will get those words thrown back in your face in a court proceeding. A court where the Swedish authorities are going to deprive you of your right to care for your own children.



Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000

Provision of school education: right of child and duty of education authority

1 Right of child to school education
It shall be the right of every child of school age to be provided with school education by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority.
2 Duty of education authority in providing school education
(1) Where school education is provided to a child or young person by, or by virtue of
arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority it shall be the duty of the authority to secure that the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential.
(2) In carrying out their duty under this section, an education authority shall have due regard, so far as is reasonably practicable, to the views (if there is a wish to express them) of the child or young person in decisions that significantly affect that child or young person, taking account of the child or young person’s age and maturity

14 Guidance to education authorities as to home education
The Scottish Ministers may issue guidance as to the circumstances in which parents may choose to educate their children at home; and education authorities shall have regard to any such guidance.

Schedule 2—Minor and consequential amendments and repeals

Section 1 of the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 (asp 6) (right of child to be provided with school education by, or by virtue of arrangements made by, an education authority) is without prejudice to the choice afforded a parent by subsection (1) above*.”

* Ref. Section 30, Education (Scotland) Act 1980

SNP MSPs (including Nicola Sturgeon, then shadow education minister) had supported a Tory amendment at Stage 2 of the Bill to remove the consent anomaly in relation to withdrawing children from council schools, which was opposed by Labour but only defeated due to Liberal Democrats’ abstention. A ‘guidance’ amendment was tabled by Lib Dem MSP Donald Gorrie at Stage 3 and was passed following a parliamentary debate, which was to become an all-important record when home educating families later came under a sustained attack by the Scottish Executive intent on introducing a parent licensing scheme).


1 May 2001

Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) founded (archived site from 2005)

Internet-based not-for-profit UK children’s rights organisation with a particular focus on civil rights and liberties, working for the advancement of children’s human rights, conducting research, publishing information, and promoting the recognition by policy makers of their obligations to children under existing human rights instruments. Founded by four home educators, including a barrister.

30 October 2001

‘For Scotland’s Children’ report published

Part 1 (pdf)

Part 2 (pdf)

Scottish Government published For Scotland’s Children which set out an action plan for improving children’s services. At the heart of that was a single service system  where every child matters, every child has the best possible start in life.

Shared Assessment

The Action Team did come across examples of agencies attempting to develop mechanisms for sharing assessment material. although those examples were few and far between. Agencies were struggling with the demand to produce something that was of value to all agencies, reduced the requirement on the service user to undergo several assessments but also produced something that was not unwieldy, bureaucratic and problematic in relation to confidentiality.

The issue of confidentiality was a recurrent theme. Confidentiality remains a big issue…Someone has to bite the bullet on this to address the issues arising from human rights and data protection legislation.


Those leading children’s services should consider those children who, because of characteristics in the family, are not receiving the positive start which all children deserve. Many services have identified that they can “predict” those children who will require services in the future. This knowledge should be translated from passive waiting to active preventative work. Services should aim to provide responses to such families, which prevent the children experiencing difficulties and potentially presenting problems later.

The Action Team found the concept of predictability to be the most contentious issue of their findings. It was perceived by many to be stigmatising and labelling, contaminated by inappropriate value judgements. Some consultees asked for the use of less deterministic terms such as vulnerability or risk. The Action Team believes, however, that what was described by many consultees goes beyond any reasonable application of these terms and justifies the use of the term predictability. What alarmed the Action Team was that no action by agencies followed on from this widespread agreement in identifying the most vulnerable and at risk children. Some consultees expressed the view that the requirements of the minimum intervention/no order principles of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 prevented targeted preventative work. This does, however, seem to have influenced practice away from prevention and early intervention in recent years. The majority of those consulted, though, regarded this as a misreading of the Act. The Action Team believes that it is the responsibility of agencies to apply their shared knowledge of the predictability of children who will require services, to offer an intervention rather than, as at present, await the development of problems.


6 February 2001

Not missing but learning at home

In Scotland, home educators are preparing for a march on Parliament in protest at a proposed tightening of the rules by the executive.

A report by the Scottish Consumer Council accused authorities of harassment and intimidation.

Now, home educators there are alarmed by draft guidance from the Scottish executive – put on its website on Christmas Eve – which they say amounts to a “bullies’ charter”.

The Freedom in Scottish Education group, which has organised Thursday’s march in Edinburgh, says the guidance pre-supposes that home education is inferior to school education, and that parents cannot be trusted with raising their children.

[Attempts by Labour to bring in parent licensing in Scotland, starting with a minority group, were thwarted by an unholy alliance of Tory and SNP MSPs, notably Brian Monteith and Michael Russell, and new guidance was issued]

20 March 2002

The Scottish Executive launched the National Debate on Education

1 April 2002

Privacy and Data Sharing: the way forward for public services

Tony Blair PM: “The report concludes that there is great potential to make better use of personal information to deliver benefits to individuals and to society, including through increased data-sharing.”

“The Government should consult on two proposals for legislative reform:

– the introduction of a general power to enable public authorities to share personal data with the consent of the individual; and

– changes to the legislative processes for establishing data-sharing gateways, to allow such gateways to be introduced through secondary legislation, subject to a codified list of tangible safeguards and adequate Parliamentary scrutiny.”

“1. More joined-up and responsive services Identifying and supporting children at risk of social exclusion: Local agencies need to be able to share information to identify children at risk of social exclusion quickly and provide the support they need to keep them on track.” [whose track?]

Personal data use

2.07 This report refers to better data use as a means to deliver public services and to enable better-targeted policy making. The term data use is a catch-all term for use of personal data within and between departments, agencies and public bodies, including the sharing of data for purposes other than those for which it was originally collected.

This can include:

  • case-by-case sharing of information in support of service delivery – data are usually identifiable, as service providers need to ensure that the customer is who they say they are and is receiving the full service they are entitled to. Information exchange is dependent on gateways and takes place under controlled circumstances, with set safeguards and security measures. The informed consent of the individual is often a requirement in information exchange;
  • bulk exchange of data for policy making and statistical research – in these instances, information is anonymised or pseudonymised to ensure that the information cannot be traced back to an identifiable individual. As such, data-sharing is less dependent on gateways and administrative triggers, but is still subject to safeguards and security measures to ensure data remain anonymous and to prevent misuse. Individual consent is not needed, as information is anonymised.

21 June 2002

Parliamentary Questions on ScotXEd (Scottish Exchange of Educational Data

Information governance questioned by SNP MSPs.

Michael Russell (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what information collection procedures are being replaced by the ScotXed initiative.

Holding answer issued: 21 June 2002 (S1W-26573)

Nicol Stephen: The ScotXed (Scottish Exchange of Educational Data) project envisages that, by 2005, all major exchanges of data between ScotXed partners should be electronic. As well as transfers of data to the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED), this will include data transfers between schools, local authorities, colleges, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education.

It is planned that most of SEED’s school education statistical surveys will be carried out by ScotXed by 2005, starting with the Scottish School Census this autumn. Further details are on the ScotXed website at:

Michael Russell (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether meeting the ScotXed requirements will assist in diminishing the burden of administration on teachers.

Holding answer issued: 21 June 2002 (S1W-26575)

Nicol Stephen: The ScotXed (Scottish Exchange of Educational Data) project is a partnership of the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) with local authorities, schools, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, HM Inspectorate of Education and Learning and Teaching Scotland to promote the electronic exchange of educational information to common standards. The project will provide better quality information and link-ups between education partners in Scotland and will encourage the good use of management information by schools and education authorities.

Most of the information needed by different ScotXed partners already exists on school Management Information Systems. Adopting a common approach to the format in which this information is held and the way it can be transmitted will reduce the bureaucratic burden on teachers, administrative staff and school managers. Data will only have to be entered once and then can be used to meet the information needs of all ScotXed partners. This will be much more straightforward for teachers, administrative staff and school managers to provide information to those who need it.

The introduction of automatic quality assurance procedures on school Management Information Systems will make the administrative burden lighter, since less time will have to be spent checking data to make sure they are accurate. ScotXed will also make possible a much wider range of benchmarking information, which will enable schools and authorities to produce analyses of data that are tailored to their particular needs, and assist with targeting resources where they are needed most.

Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will list all individuals and organisations that were consulted before the introduction of the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data and how the consultation was publicised.


Nicol Stephen: The strategic planning for the ScotXed project is undertaken by the School Education Information Advisory Group (SEIAG), which has endorsed plans for the 2002 Scottish School Census and beyond. The SEIAG membership includes representatives of: the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Headteachers Association of Scotland, the Association of Head Teachers in Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Learning and Teaching Scotland, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education, as well as representatives from the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED).

Consultations have also taken place with the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and with the Scottish School Board Association who have publicly welcomed the project.

Regular consultations take place with each local authority. SEED hosted two rounds of ScotXed Forum Meetings in January and March 2002. Each local authority and their corresponding school management information system software supplier attended these meetings.

Additional information about the ScotXed project has been made available on the ScotXed website at:

Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data requires the inclusion of individual pupils’ names and addresses and, if so, what the reason is for this position.


Nicol Stephen: The ScotXed (Scottish Exchange of Educational Data) project is a partnership of the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) with local authorities, schools, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), HM Inspectorate of Education and Learning and Teaching Scotland to promote the electronic exchange of educational information to common standards. The project will provide better quality information and link-ups between education partners in Scotland and will encourage the good use of management information by schools and education authorities.

Each partner has differing information needs which will be collected through ScotXed. Schools, local authorities and the SQA require individual pupils’ name and address for administrative purposes. The information required by SEED, to be collected through ScotXed for the September 2002 School Census, is detailed on the ScotXed website This includes individual pupils’ name and postcode but not address.

SEED will be collecting the names of individual pupils to assist in technical and administrative checks to ensure the completeness and accuracy of data. SEED will be collecting the postcode of pupils in order to analyse educational data by local geographical areas. The Scottish Executive, under the Neighbourhood Statistics initiative, is committed to producing local area statistics across a range of public services including education. All ScotXed information collected by SEED will be transferred, processed and stored to comply with the Data Protection Act and the National Statistics Code of Practice, to safeguard confidentiality of individuals.

Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive for what specific purposes the personalised information collected in the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data will be used.


Nicol Stephen: Partners of the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data (ScotXed) project, will use information held on individuals for purposes of administration, self-evaluation and, in the case of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the processing of examination data.

The Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) will use data collected through ScotXed for statistical and research purposes, to inform the development, implementation and monitoring of policy.

SEED will fully comply with the Data Protection Act in the collection, processing and storing of information relating to individuals. SEED will also comply with the National Statistics Code of Practice, in the use of ScotXed information, to safeguard confidentiality of individuals. SEED will not publish information on individuals, nor shall we make any use of names or other personal details beyond technical and administrative checks to ensure the completeness and accuracy of data.

Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive how many complaints have been received about the introduction of the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data and whether any pupils and parents have refused to provide the requested information.


Nicol Stephen: The Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) has received a small number of representations regarding the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data (ScotXed) project. Most of these representations have been queries from parents asking for clarification on issues of data confidentiality and the collection of information on ethnic background and national identity of pupils, in the 2002 Scottish School Census.

SEED has provided explanations on the importance of collecting accurate information on the ethnic background and national identity of all pupils in order to meet the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. Although SEED encourages all pupils and parents to provide this information, SEED also appreciates the sensitivity of collecting this information and has provided an option for pupils and parents to state that they do not wish to disclose this information.

SEED is not aware of how many parents or pupils may decline to disclose this information, which will be collected through ScotXed in September 2002.

Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive how pupils, or their parents, may prohibit (a) the collection of personal information for any purpose other than internal school administration and (b) the subsequent disclosure of such information to any other party.


Nicol Stephen: All partners within the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data (ScotXed) project are clear about the need ensure full compliance with the Data Protection Act when dealing with information relating to individuals, including the disclosure to third parties.

Under section 82 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, local authorities are required to provide information for the series of statistical surveys carried out by the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED).

For the first time this year, the 2002 Scottish School Census in September will be conducted electronically as part of the ScotXed project. In order to maintain high levels of data quality and to minimise the administrative burden on schools in providing the required information, it is important that the response is as complete as possible.

SEED will fully comply with the Data Protection Act in the collection, processing and storing of information relating to individuals. SEED will also comply with the National Statistics Code of Practice, in the use of ScotXed information, to safeguard confidentiality of individuals. SEED will not publish information on individuals, nor will it make any use of names or other personal details beyond technical and administrative checks to ensure the completeness and accuracy of data.

Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive by what means pupils, or their parents, will be (a) able to scrutinise all information collected about them in the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data and (b) notified of any disclosure of such information by their school to any other party.


Nicol Stephen: All Scottish Exchange of Educational Data (ScotXed) partners are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Data Protection Act when dealing with information relating to individuals. Schools and local authorities are the principal collectors of information relating to individual pupils, which they already hold and use for their own administrative, educational and managerial purposes. As such, schools and local authorities are responsible for the accuracy of the information they hold and can, on request, give appropriate access to pupils and their parents. Schools and local authorities are also responsible for informing pupils and parents of any disclosure of personal information by their school to any other party.

The Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) will use data collected through the ScotXed project from schools and local authorities for statistical and research purposes. Under section 33 of the Data Protection Act, SEED is exempt, in relation to ScotXed data, from the obligation to provide access to information on individuals that it may hold. No disclosure of ScotXed information relating to any particular individual will occur.

Irene McGugan (North-East Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether personal information collected on pupils in the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data will be automatically deleted; if so, when it will be deleted and, if no such action is planned, how individual data subjects may effect such deletion.


Nicol Stephen: Within the Scottish Exchange of Educational Data (ScotXed) project, schools and local authorities are the principal collectors of information relating to individual pupils. Much of this information is held on management information systems within schools and local authorities, and local policies and procedures will apply for retaining or deleting this data.

Information transferred through ScotXed to the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) will be accumulated over time. This will enhance the long-term statistical and research capability, especially in relation to monitoring the impact over time of education policies.

Within SEED, access to the complete ScotXed data will be subject to strict data security procedures.


9 January 2003

‘Educating for Excellence, Choice and Opportunity’ (Scottish Executive)

Scottish Executive published its response to the National Debate on Education.

The Executive believed that Scots children should leave school ready for the world of work, training, college or university:

  • Literate and numerate
  • Creative and skilled at solving problems
  • Responsible and active members of society and considerate of others
  • Ambitious, enterprising and confident
  • Able to succeed in a world where they value others and are valued for themselves
  • Motivated to continue learning throughout life.

28 January 2003

Laming Report into the death of Victora Climbie

The Laming Report was used as a vehicle to justify and push through Blair’s already-planned e-government data-sharing agenda, ‘Every Child Matters’ and children’s databases.


12 April 2004

Ryogens – the prototype for the Children Bill Big Nanny database? (Spy Blog)

The Government’s plans for the local or central Big Nanny databases which will be created on every child and parent in the UK, under the Children Bill, overturning any confidentiality under Common Law are still secret, and have not yet been clarified.

You can get a glimpse of the sort of thing that is envisaged by looking at the
RYOGENS (Reducing Youth Offending Generic Solution) project being tested by Local Authorities in Lewisham in London and Warwickshire, with the support of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Home Office etc. but which the developers hope will be rolled out to most other Local Authority areas.

The Ryogens system shares data and soft intelligence Concerns about vulnerable children between the Police and Schools and Social Services, below the levels of concern required for statutory reporting, and also links to Geographical Information Systems and attempts to alert various Child Care Professionals, i.e. it must include rumours and unsubstantiated reports and possible libels.

This system is web based and the result of a “Rapid IT Procurement Process” which is usually code for “shoddy work, to impossible deadlines promised by the sales droids to the gullible politicians and civil servants, with no consultation with the general public”.

We are not convinced that the necessary security, managerial, procedural and audit procedures are in place for a system which deals with sensitive personal information about children and their families.

In case you do not think that this data is sensitive or potentially libellous, consider that they seem to be planning to record Orwellian Thought Crimes:

Authorised users of the RYOGENS system will be enabled to raise a
notification of concern either on a child already within the system or against a new child. A notification of concern will consist of five elements:

  1. Child personal details;
    2. Personal details of the originator of the concern (where the originator is

    not the Authorised User);
    3. Reason for concern or the fact that a child or parent/carer has requested
    4. Evidence/explanation for each reason for concern;
    5. And whether consent has been gained for sharing the concern and, where it
    has not, the legal purpose for sharing the notification of concern.

8 September 2004

Joint Committee On Human Rights – Nineteenth Report

Information Sharing (download Word file)

16.   In her written response 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.

  1. The question that must be addressed is whether such a general aim as improving the well-being and promoting the welfare of all children is capable of justifying such a serious interference with Article 8 rights. The death of Victoria Climbié, and the inadequacies of communication between state agencies exposed by the Laming inquiry, have generated a sense of outrage and a determination to prevent the same avoidable errors being repeated. Maintaining a child protection register, or even a register of children “in need” and therefore in receipt of Children Act assistance from the local authority, is a much more targeted measure aimed at protecting vulnerable children. But a universal database seems to us to be rather more difficult to justify in Article 8 terms. Adults are also the beneficiaries of universal services such as health care and other services, such as community care, for which they may be eligible in certain circumstances. It appears to us that the strict logic of the Government’s position is that it would be a justifiable interference with adults’ Article 8 rights to maintain a similar universal database of all adults in the UK in order to ensure that those amongst them who are or may be entitled to receive certain services from the state actually receive them.*
  2. 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.**

* This is  in train in Scotland (as of 2014) with GIRFEA in Highland and GIRFECC in Inverclyde 

** The Supreme Court agreed in July 2016

1 November 2004

A Curriculum for Excellence – The Curriculum Review Group

Our aspiration is to enable all children to develop their capacities as successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society.

A Curriculum for Excellence challenges us to achieve this aim. It establishes clear values, purposes and principles for education from 3 to 18 in Scotland. The document has profound implications for what is learned, how it is taught and what is assessed. It enables us to anticipate changes and challenges which young people will face in the future, to take account of advances in education and to tackle the aspects of the current curriculum which must be improved.

A Curriculum for Excellence is fully in harmony with the National Priorities, and will provide an important impetus to achieving our vision for children and young people, that all children and young people should be valued by being safe, nurtured, achieving, healthy, active, included, respected and responsible.

(Outcome-Based Education – Destination SHANARRI)

December 2004

Schools for the 21st Century: the national debate on education in Scotland

Report by Pamela Munn, Joan Stead, Gale McLeod, Jane Brown , Meg Cowie, Gillean McCluskey, Anne Pirrie and Judith Scott


1 April 2005

Children’s Databases – Safety and Privacy

A Report for the Information Commissioner from the Foundation for Information Policy Research. Authors: Ross Anderson, Ian Brown, Richard Clayton,  Terri Dowty, Douwe Korff , Eileen Munro.

FIPR was awarded a tender by the Information Commissioner to undertake a research project on ‘identifying the growth in children’s databases and assessing the data protection and privacy implications’. Its aim is to provide the Commissioner with a comprehensive view of current and proposed databases, particularly in the public sector, their extent, their role, and their potential effect on the privacy of individuals. It is also to provide an authoritative basis from which the Commissioner can develop his policy on data protection, and contribute more widely to the debate on this issue, and to public policy generally.

The specific background to the project is the establishment recently of databases relating to children across social services, education, crime and health.

20 June 2005

‘Getting it Right for Every Child’.

Getting it Right for Every Child key principles were that all children should get the right services at the right time to meet their needs.

Vision for children

Our ambition for the children of Scotland is that they should be ambitious for themselves and be: confident individuals effective contributors successful learners responsible citizens

To achieve our vision, children need to be:

  • Safe: Children and young people should be protected from abuse, neglect and harm by others at home, at school and in the community.
  • Nurtured: Children and young people should live within a supportive family setting, with additional assistance if required, or, where this is not possible, within another caring setting, ensuring a positive and rewarding childhood experience.
  • Healthy: Children and young people should enjoy the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, with access to suitable healthcare and support for safe and healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Achieving: Children and young people should have access to positive learning environments and opportunities to develop their skills, confidence and self esteem to the fullest potential.
  • Active: Children and young people should be active with opportunities and encouragement to participate in play and recreation, including sport.
  • Respected and responsible: Children, young people and their carers should be involved in decisions that affect them, should have their voices heard and should be encouraged to play an active and responsible role in their communities.
  • Included: Children, young people and their carers should have access to high quality services, when required, and should be assisted to overcome the social, educational, physical, environmental and economic barriers that create inequality

[They decided – without reference to, or consultation with,  families – that all children were expected to achieve the state’s vision for them. The SHANARRI acronym came later]


The framework applies to all children [universal]. It does not require elaborate and cumbersome arrangements where simple, timely, effective action will improve matters [subjective]. It will require compliance with the data standards set out by the Social Care Data Standards Project ( SCDS at – link long dead).

Where needs are significant or require multi-agency intervention, inter-agency assessment and plans will be required. Examples are when:

  • parents, the child and agencies all need to know and understand each other’s responsibilities and contributions to make sure there are no gaps or duplication in their efforts;
  • close monitoring of progress is needed to secure a child’s safety and wellbeing or the safety and wellbeing of others; and
  • compulsory measures of care may be needed.

The Integrated Assessment Planning and Recording Framework ( IAF):

  • requires every worker and every agency to be accountable and acknowledge their responsibilities for the development and wellbeing of children and young people;
  • applies to everyone working with children and young people, whether they are part of a universal service such as education, primary health care or the police, or whether they are in a more specialist, targeted service, such as social work, school care accommodation service or secure accommodation services, acute/tertiary health services or the psychological services;
  • will be used by all those working in both the voluntary and statutory agencies;
  • requires agencies to share information in order to promote the best interests and welfare of all children. Trust, shared ownership and commitment are essential;
  • will support the integration of a range of information and assessment from different professionals and agencies into a coherent view of a child’s experiences, strengths and needs [single view of the citizen]; and
  • will improve the consistency and quality of assessments for all children [universal, no opt out].

Key principles

The key principles behind this framework are that it:

  • applies to all children; [universal, no consent]
  • serves the best interests of the child or young person; [subjective]
  • seeks to identify the earliest, most effective and least intrusive response to needs; [subjective]
  • includes the views of the child or young person, in line with their age and level of understanding [tokenistic,  consent presumed, no opt out]; and the views of the family and others who are significant in a child’s life, ensuring they understand and agree the aims of assessment; [forced or coerced consent]
  • takes account of all aspects of the child’s life, respecting rights and diversity, recognising communication, cultural or religious needs in order to prevent discrimination [Article8 ECHR, Article 16 UNCRC, DPA, Equalities Act]; and
  • brings together professionals to work to make sure that assessments focus on personal and family strengths, support networks and resources available, needs and risks, the gaps that need to be filled and the resources and options to fill them, and continuity and progression, especially at times of transition [SHANARRI-focused pathway, non negotiable].


By definition, assessment is an ongoing process of gathering information, structuring it and making sense of it, in order to inform decisions about what needs to be done to make sure children achieve their potential [as defined by the state]. Assessment is a process, not a one-off event.

Assessments are undertaken [no opt out] in partnership with children, those working with them and those who care for them. Assessments identify and build on strengths. They take account of risks and needs [to wellbeing as defined by the state, not safety and protection from harm]. They assume the sharing of information where the law, practice and policy allows or requires it. [The Common Purpose assumption was not ‘cascaded’ to parents; rather it was concealed from them, as GIRFEC minutes would later reveal].

Assessment can be undertaken for different reasons. It is important to be clear about the purpose of assessment as that will influence content, the emphasis given to various factors, the subsequent analysis of the information gathered and action planned.

Those involved [the ‘professionals’] will consider the significance of the information about the child and their family circumstances and decide on future action for the child.

The assessment triangle

The assessment triangle is a key element of the framework. It identifies generic areas important in the development of all children, which should be taken into account when assessing children and young people.

All those working with children should consider, as part of the assessment process, all the components of the triangle – whatever their professional background or setting.

Considering and reflecting on the components of the triangle will ensure that assessment is holistic and that every child and young person will be able to play his or her part in the process throughout childhood, adolescence and youth [no choice in the matter, outcomes have been decided and co-operation compulsory].

The Assessment Triangle

The Whole Child: Physical, social, educational, emotional, spiritual and psychological development


The framework builds on the work done by the Department of Health, Department for Education and Skills and Home Office (2000) and sets it within the Scottish context 1. It takes account of the important principles set out in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 with particular focus on the requirement to listen to and take account of the views of children and young people, and to working in partnership with parents [but the state-defined outcomes are non-negotiable, universal and compulsory].

At the heart of this approach is the principle that all adults work together with the focus on helping the child. This approach extends to all those who work with parents, carers or groups whose own needs or problems may affect children and young people. The strengths and achievements of children and their families, as well as needs and risks of harm are taken into account [via data harvesting].

The framework supports the integration of a range of information and assessment from different professionals and agencies into a coherent view of a child’s strengths and needs [via data processing without consent].

Children are already assessed in a variety of ways within universal and specialist services. The difference will be that all professionals will be working to the same frame of reference [as dictated by the state] and will be required in their assessments to take account of the child’s life in the context of the families and communities in which they live [via mining and sharing of personal data, including third party data,  without consent or even knowledge of data subjects].


7 March 2006

Herbison Report on the death of Danielle Reid

As with the Laming report into Victoria Climbie’s death in England (used to justify ECM/eCAF), Danielle Reid’s murder in Inverness in 2002 was used to justify children’s databasing and GIRFEC in Scotland, although plans were already well advanced. Danielle was subsequently dropped as the GIRFEC poster girl when the timeline anomaly was highlighted, but Highland became the test bed for universal data collection and sharing.

26 June 2006

Family life faces State ‘invasion’ (Telegraph)

Article in advance of LSE/ARCH conference, Children: over-surveilled, under-protected’, held on 27/6/06

Government surveillance of all children, including information on whether they eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, will be condemned tomorrow as a Big Brother system. Experts say it is the biggest state intrusion in history into the role of parents.

Changes being introduced since Victoria Climbié’s death from abuse include a £224 million database tracking all 12 million children in England and Wales from birth. The Government expects the programme to be operating within two years. But critics say the electronic files will undermine family privacy and destroy the confidentiality of medical, social work and legal records.

Doctors, schools and the police will have to alert the database to a wide range of “concerns”. Two warning flags on a child’s record could start an investigation. There will also be a system of targets and performance indicators for children’s development. Children’s services have been told to work together to make sure that targets are met.

Child care academics, practitioners and policy experts attending a conference at the London School of Economics will express concern about how the system will work.

Dr Eileen Munro, of the LSE, said that if a child caused concern by failing to make progress towards state targets, detailed information would be gathered. That would include subjective judgments such as “Is the parent providing a positive role model?”, as well as sensitive information such as a parent’s mental health.

“They include consuming five portions of fruit and veg a day, which I am baffled how they will measure,” she said. “The country is moving from ‘parents are free to bring children up as they think best as long as they are not abusive or neglectful’ to a more coercive ‘parents must bring children up to conform to the state’s views of what is best’.”

The Children Act 2004 gave the Government the powers to create the database. Experts fear that genuine cases of neglect will be missed in the mass of detail.

“When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, is it necessary to keep building bigger haystacks?” said Jonathan Bamford, the assistant commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s office, which promotes access to official information and the protection of personal information.

Keeping check on 11 million or 12 million children, when the justification for the database was that three or four million were in some way “at risk”, was “not proportionate”*, he said.

“The cause for concern indicator against a child’s record is expressed in very broad language. For example, it could be cause for concern that a child is not progressing well towards his or her French GCSE.”

Arch, the children’s rights organisation, was also worried. It said: “Government databases have a dreadful record.”

It was revealed this year that more than half a million children had been entered on a DNA database created to record known offenders, even though many had never been charged with an offence.

Eight-year-old Victoria Climbié died in 2000 while living with her aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao, and her aunt’s boyfriend, Carl Manning, despite having been seen by dozens of social workers, nurses, doctors and police officers.

The Department for Education and Skills said: “We need to ensure that professionals work across service boundaries for the benefit of children.

“Our proposals balance the need to do everything we can to improve children’s life chances ** whilst ensuring strong safeguards to make sure that information stored is minimal, secure and used appropriately.

“Parents and young people will be able to ask to see their data and make amendments and will retain full rights under the Data Protection Act.”

* The Assistant Scottish ICO should have taken note prior to creating confusion in 2013.

** Blueprint for the Scottish Government’s Better Life Chances Unit?

27 June 2006

LSE/ARCH Conference

 [Children: over-surveilled, under-protected’ link now dead but we will add links to presentations when we re-locate them from our saved files]  UPDATE: Link from web archive:

Media coverage of the conference:  TelegraphBBC NewsDaily Mail, Guardian (which correctly identified the ‘Children’s Index’ as only one element in a whole system of information-sharing and assessment of children).

6 August 2006

ARCH Database Masterclass (England)

CHILDREN’S DATABASES: A project designed to give you your very own cut-out’n’keep guide to all of the children’s databases (note the plural). Because it’s complicated, we’ve built it up in steps. Start at #1 and work through to #14.

3 September 2006

“The sort of thing Hitler talked about” (Tony Benn)

The minister in charge of a plan to identify potential troublemakers even before birth has defended the move, saying state intervention “can work”. Social exclusion minister Hilary Armstrong spoke out as ex-MP Tony Benn likened the plan to “eugenics, the sort of thing Hitler talked about”. Ms Armstrong says the government has to intervene earlier to prevent problems developing when children are older.”

4 September 2006

Tony Blair on early intervention (from the womb) – BBC video

[BBC report – video uploaded 28 July 2008 by UK Secret Courts]

According to Tony Blair, the state should intervene in children’s lives pre-birth, making use of computer systems. Refusal of “help” will lead to sanctions such as removal. Threshold for intervention said to be “too high”.

5 September 2006

‘Our Nation’s Future – Social Exclusion’ (Tony Blair speech)

Under the new arrangements, health visitors and midwives will seek to identify those most at risk*, most simply by asking young parents or parents to be about difficulties they may be having, or about their own background. This can be supplemented by information from other public services, where we need to break down barriers to sharing data.

For those who are identified at risk, the health visitor or Children’s Centre worker will engage in a more detailed assessment to clarify and confirm the level of need. For those identified as being most at risk (around 10-15 per cent of all first born), a two-year home visiting programme will be put in place.

* ‘At risk’ here means at risk of ‘social exclusion’, i.e. not meeting government-set outcomes.

14 October 2006

Charlotte Iserbyt – Deliberate Dumbing Down of the World (video)

Charlotte Iserbyt served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, during the first Reagan Administration, where she first blew the whistle on a major technology initiative which would control curriculum in America’s classrooms.

6 November 2006

Early Day Motion 2911: Data Intrusion (Westminster)

Coins the term “data rape” for gathering and sharing personal data without informed consent:

That this House notes with concern the increasing incidence of data intrusion or `data rape’ as it is increasingly becoming known, the process whereby personal and hitherto confidential data is transferred to central databases established by the Government which can then be made available to third parties, such as police and security services, without consent being required; notes that the operation of the new national medical database will require medical records, which until now have remained in the confidential custody of general practitioner practices, to be uploaded to the Spine, a computer which will collect details from doctors and hospitals; supports the British Medical Association in its demand that patients should be asked for their explicit permission before their files are transferred; further notes with concern the reports of plans to establish and expand national databases in relation to the identity card scheme, DNA and the national census; and calls on the Government to establish a legislative framework that will safeguard access to personal data which has as its foundation not only the requirement for explicit consent but the right to know which agencies have a right to, and have requested access to, personal information.

22 November 2006

Protecting Children’s Personal Information ICO Issues Paper

“There is a need for full debate about the range and extent of information being
collected on the nation’s children. It is hard to envisage any households with
children remaining untouched by at least one of the various databases that
are being compiled. Whilst these can serve essential public policy objectives,
the collection and use of some information may be moving into areas which
create a feeling of unease. The profiling of children at an early age from
circumstantial matters and the consequences for the rest of their lives is a
particular example.”

“Data protection should never be used as an excuse for failure to protect a
child from a real risk of harm.

“Data protection issues may be less clear-cut where the concerns focus on the
welfare of children, rather than their protection. Child protection and child
welfare are not the same thing. Child welfare is a much broader category –
referring to children who are poor, or unhappy, or living in unsatisfactory
neighbourhoods, or at risk in some other way of not growing up into happy
adults with a reasonable chance to fulfil their potential. While child protection
deals with a relatively small number of children – estimated to be around
50,000 in England – child welfare concerns may exist for three to four million.

“The Every Child Matters agenda extends social care from protection to
welfare. Although there are overlaps, this shift means that substantially more
information will be collected and shared about substantially more children for
different reasons. These different purposes raise different considerations from
a data protection perspective. It is important that approaches used in the
context of protection are not assumed to be transferable to the welfare
context. The blurring of boundaries with the prevention of youth offending
complicates matters still further.”



Confidentiality in a Preventive Child Welfare System  by Eileen Munro (LSE research Online)


Emerging child welfare policies promoting preventive and early intervention services
present a challenge to professional ethics, raising questions about how to balance respect
for service users with concern for social justice. This article explains how the UK policy
involves shifting the balance of power away from families towards State and professional
decision-making. The policy is predicated on sharing information between professionals
to inform risk and need assessment and so poses a problem for the ethic of confidentiality
in a helping relationship. This article examines the arguments for information sharing and
questions whether the predicted benefits for children outweigh the cost of eroding family
privacy and changing the nature of professional relationships with service users.

Conclusion (excerpts)

[The policy] fails to consider what harm may be caused by the process of surveillance of families and by labelling children as future problems.

Rejecting the rights approach to defining children’s needs that is embodied in the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child, the government has opted for its own set of targets
and performance indicators. These can be criticised for placing too much value on the
needs of society (for well-educated, healthy, law-abiding citizens) compared with the
needs of the individual child.

In policy debates, there seems to be an assumption that there is some objective measure
of what is in a child’s best interests and some objective standards of good parenting
applicable in all social circumstances. The possibility of rational disagreement between a
parent and a professional on what is in the child’s best interests at a particular point in
their lives is not addressed.

4 May 2007

SNP wins historic victory

SNP became the largest party in Scotland and proceeded to govern as a minority administration.

2 June 2007

Tellus to clear off (ARCH)

There’s quite a furore over the latest Ofsted ‘Tellus’ survey:

Parents expressed their anger after discovering that Ofsted is asking children as young as 10 personal questions about their home life.

About 120,000 pupils have already been questioned on how often they get drunk or smoke, and whether their mothers are in paid work – for an online survey.

Ofsted has told schools they do not need to ask parents’ permission before pupils complete the survey, which will create a national database to be used by 145 English councils.

The survey was first carried out 2 years ago, when it was designed simply to elicit the views of children about their school and the quality of leisure provision in their area. It contained 14 straightforward questions and seemed a pretty sensible ‘horse’s mouth’ strategy to us.

This time, ‘Tellus2’ asks 39 questions and tips over from asking for children’s views to asking for their personal data as well. Did someone just say ‘function creep’?

Why are they doing this? The BBC has got it right:

The inspection watchdog said the results of its Tellus2 survey – covering home life, health and bullying – would be used to help local authorities assess their success in meeting the needs of children and young people.

It’s back to the ‘Outcomes Framework’ – those 26 Public Service Agreement Targets and 13 ‘Key Indicators’ that have been imposed upon local authorities by the government’s ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda. We always wondered how on earth they would actually manage to measure how many children were meeting the fruit’n’veg’, smoking prevention and working mother targets.

If schools and parents are angry now, we must warn that things can only get worse: LAs are planning to issue their own surveys in order to gather performance-indicator data, on top of the information already gathered by ‘Tellus2’. The Q & A sheet on the Ofsted ‘Tellus’ site contains this:

Q4. This is going to overlap with LA’s own surveys. Should we run separate surveys or can Local Authorities add their own questions to the national one?

A4. We are aware that some local authorities already have plans in place to run their own surveys of children and young people in schools this year. We sincerely regret instances where there has not been enough notice given to prevent overlap between any such surveys and Tellus2. For this year there will be no provision for LAs to add their own questions to Tellus2 or to run the survey more widely. However, we are actively considering whether the survey could be expanded next year to incorporate such options.

If the NUT is worried by ‘Tellus’, then it’s to be hoped that they will be as opposed to LA surveys as they are to this Ofsted offering. LAs will then have to work out how to collect their wretched performance data by other means – or accept that it’s none of their damned business anyway.

Alternatively, children will soon get questionnaire-fatigue and make up the answers. So long as the results show an upward trend, it seems unlikely that LAs will object. They will keep the government off their backs, children will maintain their privacy, and the government will have lots of statistics to show how their policy has improved children’s lives. If you exclude the bamboozled electorate and the council-taxpayers who foot the bill, it’s a win-win situation.

NB the easiest way to find copies of the questionnaires is to Google “Tellus survey” and “Tellus2 survey”

[Being repeated in Scotland in 2016/17]



18 January 2008

ARCH videos: Children’s Databases; E-Caf; Lost in the system

Links: Children’s Databases E-Caf Lost in the system

Cast list includes Professor Ross Anderson, Dr Ian Brown, Dr Liz Davies, Shami Chakrabarti and Terri Dowty.

Contactpoint, sometimes called the ‘Children’s Index’, ‘Information Sharing Index’ or ‘Children’s Database’, will be a central identity register of every under-18 in England together with details of all of the services that they use. Its cousin, the eCAF database will contain in-depth personal assessments of children and young people using any service other than basic education and health care — that’s around 50% of under-18s.

Together with information security experts, child protection specialists and children’s rights advocates, ARCH has spent the last 4 years trying to get the government to understand that large, centralised databases of children’s private information are a dangerous and misguided idea. These films explain why.

1 February 2008

Deloitte security review of ContactPoint

Not released until June 2010 by order of ICO. Identified multiple security issues.

18 March 2008

Early Years and Early Intervention: A joint Scottish Government and COSLA policy statement

This document sets out a joint approach to early years and early intervention by the Scottish government and COSLA. It describes how early years and early intervention support the purpose and national performance framework, and proposes a list of tasks to be taken forward as part of the early years framework.

Getting It Right in the Early Years


The focus of the early years framework will be from pre-conception through pregnancy, birth and up to age 8. It will be a framework for the long term, with a time horizon of 10 years. Our ambition is to build a public and political consensus [the former failed, but the politiocians followed thier orders] about the priorities [state dictated] over that period which will sustain the policy through successive Parliaments. [Enter John Elvidge, to orchestrate the puppet show – his ‘overarching’ contribution appears later in this timeline]

By combining the Purpose, the principles of solidarity and cohesion and an early intervention approach with the needs [as defined by the government, not the ‘needy’] of children and parents in the early years, we have identified four themes for the early years framework. These are –

  • Building parenting and family capacity [to meet state outcomes] pre and post birth.
  • Creating communities that provide a supportive environment [SHANARRI outcomes only] for children and families.
  • Delivering integrated services that meet the holistic needs [SHANARRI defined only] of children and families.
  • Developing a suitable workforce [trained to obey SHANARRI] to support the framework.

Because these themes are drawn from the higher level principles it is readily apparent that they need not be confined to the early years and potentially have relevance for children, young people and families more generally.

Each (task) group will be asked to set its work clearly within the context of the Purpose*, the strategic objectives and Government Economic Strategy and will be asked to identify how their proposals will contribute to the achievement of the Purpose and the national outcomes.

*  Measuring citizens’ relative worth to the economy and introduction of conditionality wrt services and interventions, as with UK welfare reform.

11 July  2008

Data Sharing Report to PM

Richard Thomas and Mark Walport made 19 recommendations following wide consultation.

A recurring message, particularly from respondents from the public sector, was said to be that citizens expect organisations to share information about them where this is necessary to provide services.

Selection of  consultee comments:

“The sharing of information about individuals between departments of the same authority – and increasingly between public agencies operating within an area – helps deliver joined up services to those individuals. For example, a vulnerable elderly person can benefit where the council’s adult social care service shares information with the local health service; a young person’s preparation for employment may be facilitated if their school liaises with the local Learning and Skills Council to produce a rounded profile of attainment and training requirements; the sharing of information amongst police, social care and school can help protect a vulnerable child; and a young person leaving care will benefit from information sharing between the county council that is responsible for care and the district council that is responsible for housing. Government and citizen alike expect effective liaison of this sort to happen. Local Area Agreements depend on joint planning, service delivery and performance management by public sector organisations working together. This work is underpinned by a shared view of local people and their needs”.  – Local Government Association

“Of prime concern to individuals is the loss of control and intrusion into their private lives resulting from a lack of privacy. Other concerns include the mishandling of information that can lead to identity theft, and the dissemination of inaccurate information that can result in social stigma or loss of credit.” “Without adequate protections, both public and private sector plans to use personal information, including e-government and e-commerce can be undermined by lack of public trust and consumer confidence.”  – The National Consumer Council

“There is a risk that individuals or groups might be prejudiced if personal information is shared and there is a lack of contextual understanding about how and for what purpose information was originally collected for and how it will be used. There were reports in autumn 2007 of individuals who had been refused employment because they had a criminal record, on further investigation it transpired that they were for minor offences committed 20 years previously”.  – Leicester Information Management Advisory Group

“There is an inherent security risk every time personal information is shared between organisations.” –  Information Commissioner’s Office

“It is not, perhaps, a question of whether public authorities hold too much personal information, but rather that too much information is available to too many people, e.g. departments or offices that have access to information they do not need”  – Intellect

“We have always found a basis for sharing personal information where it is considered necessary for us to do so for the exercise of our functions. However, where the purpose of the data sharing is to enable another public authority (e.g. HMRC or DWP) to fulfil its functions, then we frequently face the issue of whether or not we have the vires to share the information. Therefore, it might be helpful to consider the appropriateness of bringing forward legislation to confer upon public authorities generally a vires to share personal data where it is in the public interest to do so.*” -Welsh Executive Government [* They tried that, but the ECHR and Data Protection Act got in the way]

“Responses from some local authorities to EURIM questioning indicate that the DPA is perceived to be a barrier even when it is recognised in reality not to be; others clearly believe that the DPA is in reality a barrier, citing the Childrens Act as one example where the law is contradictory. Clarity and advice from the ICO was also perceived to be lacking by some.” – EURIM

“If data sharing is to ‘take root’, then DPA will need to be amended or new enabling legislation introduced*. These legislative changes would need to be supported by Codes of Practice and/or detailed guidance… Further and more stringent penalties may [also] be necessary to ensure that the attention of Data Controllers, and individuals who are accountable, is focussed firmly on the safeguarding of personal information.” – Northern Ireland Civil Service [* But the DP Act could not be amended, and enabling legislation could not confer any such powers, due to the constraints of Article 8 of ECHR and the EU DP Directive]

“There is a lack of clarity about what constitutes valid consent for data sharing, and how that consent should be managed. Current data collection mechanisms do not provide sufficient granularity for the individual to consent to what information is collected, how long it is held, with whom it is shared, and the purposes of sharing. Generalised ‘opt-in / opt-out’ notices do not cover a necessary level of detail, and rarely provide a transparent mechanism for data subjects to subsequently change their consent permissions or force the deletion of given personal data from its initial storage location and all other locations to which it has been transmitted for other purposes.” – Privacy Enterprise Group

“If consent was needed before sharing took place, sharing would never happen*. There will always be people who refuse to share, putting personal interest above the wellbeing of society**. The cost of separating out data covered by such refusals, linked with the costs or evidencing consent and maintaining it are enormous.” – Leicester City Council [* Oops, a public confession of law breaking ** How dare people defend their human rights!]

“The entire question has developed because it has become practical to manage, exchange, match and mine vast quantities of information about people and their personal lives, rapidly and without their involvement. The technological capacity and the bureaucratic imperative to record and report that it facilitates have far outpaced social change. It is like the Black Death: the population has no natural resistance and no real understanding of what is happening and why.” – NO2ID


1 January 2009  

Protecting the Virtual Child – the law and children’s consent to sharing personal data‘

Nuffield Foundation: Sharing children’s personal data

Research project by ARCH to establish the current legal position in England and Wales in relation to obtaining consent from people aged under 16 to data-sharing between practitioners and agencies. In addition to examining the legal framework in the UK, the researchers undertook a comparative study of seven EU countries. Report published in January 2009.

  • The age of 12 is often quoted as the age when children can be presumed able to consent to sharing their personal and sensitive data. This reference to age 12 should be removed from all guidance on the grounds that it has no basis in English law.
  • All local authorities should be required to train practitioners in the assessment of children’s capacity and competence to consent to information-sharing.
  • Parents should be involved in the consent decisions of their competent children unless the child specifically objects, or there are special reasons against it. Local authorities should establish a default position of involving parents in decisions about sharing their children’s sensitive data unless a competent child refuses such involvement.
  • When practitioners share a child’s data, sensitive information may also be collected and shared about parents and siblings. The law already requires that parents should be made aware of this, subject to limited exceptions. We recommend that this basic rule is followed in all cases, unless there are overriding reasons not to inform the parent.
  • The Information Commissioner should produce a code of practice for local authorities, setting out standards for data protection training and paying special attention to the protection of children’s data.

9 January 2009

GIRFEC newsletter

The original link to the GIRFEC newsletter discussed this forum thread has disappeared, probably because Danielle Reid’s murder was not the catalyst for GIRFEC.

22 January 2009

Briefing paper from Schoolhouse Home Education Association for presentation to Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Steering Group

Briefing paper for the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) steering group outlining the dangers of universal children’s databases and the background to England’s Every Child Matters agenda.

22 March 2009

Database State report

Report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

“Of the 46 databases assessed in this report only six are given the green light. That is, only six are found to have a proper legal basis for any privacy intrusions and are proportionate and necessary in a democratic society. That is, only six are found to have a proper legal basis for any privacy intrusions and are proportionate and necessary in a democratic society. Nearly twice as many are almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection law and should be scrapped or substantially redesigned, while the remaining 29 databases have significant problems and should be subject to an independent review.”

7 May 2009

Horror upon horror that unfolded in ‘worst ever’ abuse trial

James Rennie, who used the e-mail name “kplover”, standing for “kiddie porn lover”, had a discussion with a man in the Netherlands who described how he would like to torture and “finish” a child. “His ending remains to be seen but I enjoy the thought of strangling him while sodomised,” the man stated. On another occasion, Rennie sent a general e-mail with the request: “Has anyone got any porn with young Down’s syndrome or learning difficulty kids?”

Youth rights champion guilty of vile abuse

A CENTRAL figure in the paedophile ring that committed a string of horrific abuse crimes had been both a confidante to teenagers struggling with their sexuality and a prominent champion of youth rights. Jamie Rennie began working with LGBT Youth Scotland – which provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people – as a group worker in 1997. Every week, the trained teacher would provide emotional support and advice for about 20 youngsters aged between 13 and 18 at a community centre in the Tollcross area of Edinburgh. After a year working directly with young people, Rennie moved into management and rose to become chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland in 2003.

Jail term later slashed on appeal (2011): Sex beast’s minimum jail term cut

THE parents of a baby abused by notorious paedophile James Rennie have warned that other children could be put at risk after his minimum jail sentence was dramatically slashed. Rennie, one of the ringleaders of Scotland’s biggest child abuse network, has won the right to be considered for release four-and-a-half years early. The former chief executive of city-based LGBT Scotland is serving a life sentence for molesting a three-month-old and for conspiring to get access to children in order to abuse them. The minimum term the 40-year-old, formerly of Marionville Road, Edinburgh, must serve before being considered for parole was cut from 13 years to eight-and-a-half years at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh yesterday. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill vowed afterwards to change the law urgently to stop other criminals convicted of “truly appalling crimes” from having their sentences cut.

14 May 2009

Richard Thomas ICO criticises ContactPoint

Outgoing ICO Richard Thomas criticises mass data collection and ContactPoint

Big Brother database on adults working with children may ruin innocent lives, warns watchdog

“There are reasons why we need to promote better information sharing where children are at risk of harm, but whether the answer is to database every child in the country should be seriously questioned.”

“We live in a free society. We value our freedoms. Sometimes it is a step too far if people err on the side of the collection of data for the sake of collecting data, rather than on the ones we need to watch.”

20 May 2009

Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2009

An Act of the Scottish Parliament to amend the law in respect of placing requests in relation to the school education of children and young persons having additional support needs and in respect of arrangements between education authorities in relation to such school education; to make minor provision in relation to additional support needs; to make further provision in relation to the practice and procedure of the Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland; and for connected purposes.

11 June 2009

Badman Review report published [recommendations dropped in 2010]

Wising Up After Badman: Learning Lessons from The Badman Review of Home Education in England 2009 (Harriet Pattison)

The Badman Review made 28 recommendations concerning the restriction, registration, monitoring and the availability of local authority managed resources to home educators. These included an annual registration or licensing scheme, giving LAs the authority to monitor home education including the right of access to homes and the right to interview children alone (ie without their parents present). Parents would not be obliged to co-operate but non co-operation could lead to permission being withheld.

[Authoritarianism towards parents and a state dictated wellbeing agenda is becoming embedded on both sides of the border, with minorities being targeted first for unwanted and unnecessary intervention]

6 September 2009

ID cards for babies (the rest will follow)

Article by home educators charting the history of GIRFEC data collection and sharing to date.

A briefing paper [link to be added] was also circulated to ministers, the ICO and others concerned with privacy issues. The silence was deafening as the non-negotiable Common Purpose, which had been decided by a cosy coterie of vested interests, was to take precedence over citizens’ autonomy and the principle of self-determination. The placement of ‘useful idiots’ in key roles the public and third sectors, who would ‘just follow orders’, was also well underway. Others were directly parachuted from the civil service in order to create a useful echo chamber.

[For those interested in further research,  there was a significant influx to Scotland in the late 1990s of ‘influencers’, mainly from the USA,  who were keen to inform the direction of the new parliament. Some are still around in key positions, dictating how our life chances can be improved. ]

17 November 2009

Targets good, privacy bad (ARCH)

A couple of years ago, a great deal of fury was expressed at the intrusiveness of Ofsted’s ‘TellUs’ surveys. At the time, we said:

If schools and parents are angry now, we must warn that things can only get worse: LAs are planning to issue their own surveys in order to gather performance-indicator data

You need to go back and look at that post in order to understand what we meant, but, basically, we were warning that children’s services would need to step up their data collection so that they – and Ofsted – can assess whether they are meeting their PSA targets, derived from the ‘five outcomes’, the government’s aims for children:

  • Being Healthy
  • Staying Safe
  • Enjoying and Achieving
  • Making a Positive Contribution
  • Achieving Economic Wellbeing

A pattern is emerging across the UK of compulsory state-defined outcomes for all

17 November 2009 hoovers up data on five-year-olds (The Register)

The Register shows how the task of PSA target-checking is being tackled (via ARCH).

The government obsession with collecting data has now extended to five-year-olds, as local Community Health Services get ready to arm-twist parents into revealing the most intimate details of their own and their child’s personal, behavioural and eating habits.

The questionnaire – or “School Entry Wellbeing Review” – is a four-page tick-box opus, at present being piloted in Lincolnshire [that’s the council who believe individuals who refuse consent for data sharing are selfish, so they just do it anyway], requiring parents to supply over 100 different data points about their own and their offspring’s health. Previously, parents received a “Health Record” on the birth of a child, which contained around eight questions which needed to be answered when that child started school.

The Review asks parents to indicate whether their child “often lies or cheats”: whether they steal or bully; and how often they eat red meat, takeaway meals or fizzy drinks.

However, the interrogation is not limited to intimate details of a child’s health. Parents responding to the survey are asked to provide details about their health and their partner’s health, whether they or their partner are in paid employment, and even to own up to whether or not their child is upset when they (the parent) returns to a room.

All of those questions link to PSA targets. The child’s foodie and health questions come under ‘being healthy’. The parental health questions are more likely to be about ‘staying safe’ – and also ‘enjoying and achieving’ because the answers may indicate that a child has caring responsibilities. Behaviour questions are almost certainly connected with spotting children of potentially criminal disposition for referral to early intervention projects (the ‘making a positive contribution’ strand, which requires children’s services to reduce the number of entrants into the youth justice system). Family income and housing questions are about ‘achieving economic wellbeing’.

The Register article continues:

Completing the review is, according to a spokeswoman for Lincolnshire Community Health Services (CHS) “entirely the choice of the parent”. [Aye right]  However, the letter accompanying the review states: “Please complete the enclosed questionnaire …and return it to school in the envelope provided within the next 7 days.”

There is no indication on the letter of a parent’s right to opt out, and parents we have spoken with have expressed fears that failure to fill out this questionnaire might mean their child’s access to health services would be diminished.

That’s disgraceful, but not surprising. As we discovered during the course of the ‘informed consent’ project, attitudes to consent/data protection in some local authorities can be perfunctory to the point of indifference [especially in Lincolnshire]. To give a recent example of what I mean, I bumped into this quote from a practitioner who has just started using Contactpoint and says that it has saved time:

“It’s useful to have all the information on one screen rather than having to ask the parents – they can find it frustrating and question why you want to know,”

In other words, perish the thought that parents should inconvenience practitioners by questioning their right to collect and share data. Who on earth do they think they are?

1 December 2009

Risky people or risky societies? Rethinking interventions for young adults in transition

Report by The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Concluding remarks:

Risk-based approaches to children and young people are overly reliant on a misreading of a research base that itself is limited to a relatively narrow set of questions. The result, unsurprisingly, has been inconclusive policy results and an ongoing widening of the youth justice net.

The implications for young adults in trouble with the law are significant. Many of them will have first come to the attention of government agencies as ‘risky’ children and young people. Thrown on to the ‘early interventions’ conveyor belt in their childhood, many will find themselves propelled into wasteful, counterproductive and prolonged interventions into their own lives and those of their families.

Meanwhile the socially mediated risks and vulnerabilities they face and experience in their everyday lives are largely ignored. There is much talk of the risk posed by children and young people to others. There is much less consideration of the risky social arrangements that result in so many children and young people growing into a young adulthood marked by poverty, insecurity and mental distress.



Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress  (Stiglitz Report) published.

An astute observer has commented on linkage to Scottish data driven wellbeing agenda here.

15 April 2010

ARCH Privacy Guide for Parents

ARCH Guide for parents (2010) on the proliferation of information being collected about their children, with or without their knowledge, and how to maintain as much control as possible.

1 June 2010 (nominal date)

Data Protection in the European Union: the role of National Data Protection Authorities

National Data Protection Authorities as independent guardians  (page 8)

The Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC requires Data Protection Authorities to ‘act with complete independence in exercising the functions entrusted to them’ (Article 28(1) of the Data Protection Directive). However, the nature of this ‘independence’ is not elaborated upon. It would be advisable for the guarantees of independence in the directive to be specified in detail to guarantee effective independence of Data Protection Authorities in practice. It is thus advisable to include a reference to the so-called “Paris Principles” and other available standards in a future revision of the directive in order to offer a more comprehensive definition of independence.

4.1.1. Independence (page 19)

EU Member States have made positive efforts to comply with Article 28(1)(2) of the Data Protection Directive, which requires Member States to ensure that their national Data Protection Authorities act in complete independence while exercising the functions entrusted to them. The interpretation of this provision of the Data Protection Directive was the subject of an Opinion of Advocate General Mazák. In this Opinion, the term “independence” is qualifi ed as relative in nature, since it is necessary to specify in relation to whom and at what level such independence must exist. Concerning data protection authorities, it is stated that the purpose of such authorities needs to be taken into account when assessing their independence.*

*Opinion of Advocate General Mazák, Case C-518/07, Commission of the European Communities v Germany, delivered on 22 October 2009. The Commission launched this infringement procedure against Germany for incorrect implementation of the EU Data Protection Directive for data protection authorities in the private sector (lack of independence). The European Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) delivered the judgement in the case C-518/07, Commission of the European Communities v Germany, on 9 March 2010 and stated under points 18 and 19 of the judgement: “With regard, in the first place, to the wording of the second subparagraph of Article 28(1) of Directive 95/46, because the words ‘with complete independence’ are not defined by that directive, it is necessary to take their usual meaning into account. In relation to a public body, the term ‘independence’ normally means a status which ensures that the body concerned can act completely freely, without taking any instructions or being put under any pressure. Contrary to the position taken by the Federal Republic of Germany, there is nothing to indicate that the requirement of independence concerns exclusively the relationship between the supervisory authorities and the bodies subject to that supervision. On the contrary, the concept of ‘independence’ is complemented by the adjective ‘complete’, which implies a decision-making power independent of any direct or indirect external influence on the supervisory authority.”

[Someone should have told the UK ICO that public confidence in an ‘independent’ regulator would be greatly diminished in 2012/13 when it was found that the Asst Scottish ICO had worked ‘jointly’ with the government to ‘free up’ the processing of children’s, parents’ and third parties’ personal data without consent – especially when that ‘joint’ work, which took no cognisance of a binding legal precedent, resulted in breaches of the law on a massive scale across Scotland, as evidenced in practice guidance and illegal information sharing policies.]

1 December 2010

National Guidance for *Child Protection* in Scotland

Presumed by the public to be about protecting vulnerable children. The foreword by Adam Ingram MSP references GIRFEC and early intervention.

“The protection of Scotland’s children – keeping them happy, healthy and safe from harm – is fundamental to the success of the Government’s aspirations for children and young people. We cannot expect our children to flourish and become responsible citizens, successful learners, confident individuals and effective contributors to society if they do not have the best start in life. Child protection depends on the knowledge, skills and confidence of those who work with children and families. Staff must be able to manage risk and deal with the complex and highly uncertain environments that face our most vulnerable children and families. Professionalism, commitment and courage are needed to address the most challenging of circumstances. Strong, clear and relevant guidance in this area is an essential support for the children’s workforce.”

Child protection has to be seen in the context of the wider Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach and the Early Years Framework and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

All children and young people have the right to be cared for and protected from harm and abuse and to grow up in a safe environment in which their rights are respected and their needs met. Children and young people should get the help they need, when they need it, and their welfare is always paramount.

 The Scottish Government has set out a vision that all Scotland’s children and young people will be: successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

GIRFEC promotes action to improve the well-being of all children and young people in eight areas. These well-being indicators state that children and young people must be: healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, included and above all in this context, safe.

GIRFEC has a number of key components:

  • a focus on improving outcomes for children, young people and their families based on a shared understanding of well-being;
  • a common approach to gaining consent and sharing information where appropriate;
  • an integral role for children, young people and families in assessment, planning and intervention;
  • a co-ordinated and unified approach to identifying concerns, assessing needs, agreeing actions and outcomes, based on the well-being indicators;
  • streamlined planning, assessment and decision-making processes that result in children, young people and their families getting the right help at the right time;
  • consistent high standards of co-operation, joint working and communication, locally and across Scotland;
  • a Named Person in universal services for each child and a Lead Professional to co-ordinate and monitor multi-agency activity where necessary;
  • maximising the skilled workforce within universal services to address needs and risks as early as possible;
  • a confident and competent workforce across all services for children, young people and their families; and
  • the capacity to share demographic, assessment and planning information electronically within and across agency boundaries.

What is harm and significant harm in a child protection context?

  1. Child protection is closely linked to the risk of ‘significant harm’. ‘Significant harm’ is a complex matter and subject to professional judgement based on a multi-agency assessment of the circumstances of the child and their family. Where there are concerns about harm, abuse or neglect, these must be shared with the relevant agencies so that they can decide together whether the harm is, or is likely to be, significant.
  2. Significant harm can result from a specific incident, a series of incidents or an accumulation of concerns over a period of time. It is essential that when considering the presence or likelihood of significant harm that the impact (or potential impact) on the child takes priority and not simply the alleged abusive behaviour. The following sections illustrate considerations that need to be taken into account when exercising that professional judgement.

What is risk in a child protection context?

  1. Understanding the concept of risk is critical to child protection. For further information, see the section on Identifying and managing risk. This will be supplemented by a national risk identification and management toolkit currently in development. [* the one that would list 200+ risk indicators, which essentially designated every child at risk,  and 300+ outcome signifiers]

Information-sharing for child protection: general principles  (p27)

  • The safety, welfare and well-being of a child are of central importance when making decisions to lawfully share information with or about them.
  • Children have a right to express their views and have them taken into account [but disregarded] when decisions are made about what should happen to them.
  • The reasons why information needs to be shared and particular actions taken should be communicated openly and honestly with children and, where appropriate, their families.
  • In general, information will normally only be shared with the consent of the child (depending on age and maturity). However, where there are concerns that seeking consent would increase the risk to a child or others or prejudice any subsequent investigation, information may need to be shared without consent.
  • At all times, information shared should be relevant, necessary and proportionate to the circumstances of the child, and limited to those who need to know.
  • When gathering information about possible risks to a child, information should be sought from all relevant sources, including services that may be involved with other family members. Relevant historical information should also be taken into account. [i.e. fishing expeditions without ‘consent’ or ‘necessity to protect vital interests’]
  • When information is shared, a record should be made of when it was shared, with whom, for what purpose, in what form and whether it was disclosed with or without informed consent. Similarly, any decision not to share information should also be recorded.
  • Agencies should provide clear guidance for practitioners on sharing information. This should include advice on sharing information about adults who may pose a risk to children, dealing with disputes over information sharing and clear policies on whistle-blowing

28 April 2010

Policy-making without evidence

ARCH comment: “Disappointing to see the Scottish Children’s Commissioner applauding early intervention.

Speaking at crime reduction charity Nacro’s annual conference in Nottingham, Tam Baillie said indicators that a child will go on to offend can be present from a young age and it is important to “get in early”.

It’s yet more proof that if you keep repeating something often enough, even intelligent people (who should know better) start to believe it. The ‘risk prediction’ concept is now firmly entrenched but where is the evidence that this approach is actually effective? Sure, there are plenty of research reports that begin with phrases like “there is mounting evidence…” or “it is now widely recognised that…” but when you drill down, the actual evidence is scanty, anecdotal or non-existent.

It’s a shame that policy-makers and politicians – across all parties – haven’t paid closer attention to the report from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, ‘Risky people or risky societies?’ which goes to the trouble of examining the evidence-base.

Policy interventions that seek to target individuals and their families on the basis of certain characteristics, with the intention of preventing future offending, have no obvious basis in current research. Risk factor research also operates with a number of assumptions that, on closer scrutiny, are problematic and, despite claims of scientific objectivity, are necessarily ideological. The nuances and qualifications have at times become lost in translation from the academy to Whitehall, but the focus on individual and micro-social risks has chimed with the priorities of policy makers.

That’s not to say that you can’t do something about factors within a local environment that tend to disadvantage children, but:

different population groups in different parts of the country experience markedly different levels of risk…The challenge is to rethink a policy framework that recognises the variable risks that different groups face in society, but without engaging in the dubious and ultimately futile exercise of identifying risky individuals.

By all means provide decent housing, good schools, decent leisure facilities. By all means intervene when a parent is neglecting or abusing their children, or when a child is clearly skidding off the rails. But for now we need rather more rigorous evidence that children’s life-trajectories can be predicted before anyone ‘intervenes’. And on the ‘do no harm’ principle, we also need a reasonable degree of certainty that ‘intervention’ (together with its co-respondent, sensitive-data-gathering) aren’t actively harmful to those who would otherwise have been fine.”

29 April 2010

Refocussing child protection

ARCH comment on an interview with Eileen Munro on her plans for improving child protection:

Munro wants to wipe the slate clean. “We’re not talking about trimming back the current forms but re-examining why we record anything and ensuring that what we do record helps children. We have to go back to recording the narrative, not data.”

She puts a welcome emphasis on the need to include children and families in the process, rather than simply doing things to them. Munro is keen that all documents are simple enough for families to read them and flexible enough to take children’s views into account. “That might mean a child’s drawing or a poem,” she says. “We need to be trying to understand children’s experience and not treat them as oddities who must be fitted into the assessment process.”

29 April 2010

The Baby P blame game reveals that social work reform has taken a turn for the worse

Guardian article by Sue White, social work professor at Lancaster University

“The traumatic events in the wake of the Baby Peter trial – the scurrilous tabloid campaigning, the ill-judged political opportunism, the ruthless dismissal of Shoesmith – left one unexpected legacy: they forced the profession finally to stand up for itself. Social workers began to shout about the things they thought were wrong with the system.

These included significant aspects of reforms introduced by Labour after the Victoria Climbié tragedy. These had spawned perverse incentives, a preoccupation with data entry and measurable aspects of performance. All backed by a tired, methodologically poor inspectorial regime that defeated even the most sensitive inspectors with experience of social work.”

“The system keeps limping along – its feet bearing the self-inflicted gunshot wounds of trigger-happy policymakers…They promised us a safe 4×4 in which to navigate a primrose path, but we’ve ended up down a muddy track in a Reliant Robin. Let’s get out and walk.”

6 May 2010

UK general election

Coalition govt formed

9 May 2010

eScience = biological economic devices? (Compute Scotland)

Cambridge researcher Dr Ian Dent casts a reflective look at how ‘Digital Britain’ progresses in his study on ‘Beyond Broadband’. The main question it asks of you as you read it is: conspiracy theories or uncomfortable resonance?

“If your DNA is on file, and you are a woman whose mother and grandmother died of breast cancer and you have been unemployed for ten years, living on benefits and happen to have friends in sensitive locations in the world to whom you e-mail regularly about disconcerting political issues in the UK . . you will probably have difficulties in gaining access to expensive drugs or treatments on the future e-controlled National Health Service – simply because your ‘worth-to-the-economy’ profile will give you a low – ‘biological-object-score’. In this respect, NHS funding will be ‘pegged’ to the data collected on each citizen,” writes writes  Dr Ian Dent in his study “Beyond Broadband”.

“In addition, if your lifestyle patterns (attributes) – as picked-up through RFID/ economic transactions/patterns of consumption/patterns of travel/GPS ( geotagging) etc – become ‘worked backwards’ (for example to your taxation records), a profile extrapolated by linked Government Grids, then the Inland Revenue will be automatically alerted and then the onus will be on you to justify what you have been doing and where the finance has come from to achieve it. If you have ever fallen foul of errors in Government bureaucracy and all the stress involved in refuting allegations . . you have not seen anything yet . . .”

See also:

HEF thread 24/9/14 Government accused of ‘stealth’ e-profiling of citizens 

Alice Moore Blog 22/9/14 Big Data: the implications for education and society

27 May 2010

Coalition Govt announces abolition of ID cards and ContactPoint

Coalition Govt to scrap ContactPoint.

1 June 2010

National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland: Consultation

Scottish Government consultation on revised guidance on child protection, to replace the 1998 guidance Protecting Children – A Shared Responsibility: Guidance on Inter-Agency Co-operation.

Comment on HE Forums:

Heavily GIRFEC orientated. Home-educated children are specifically mentioned as being in Paragraph 582 (a subsection of “Children who are Missing”). ” Home-educated children – A child may be unknown to services as a result of their removal from mainstream education.” Which is interesting as it doesn’t cover children who were never in so-called mainstream education, besides the idea of home-education not being mainstream being rather pejorative. Despite this, home ed orgs are not listed among the consultees.

29 June 2010

Secret report on ContactPoint database found ‘significant risks’ to security

The 2008 Deloitte security report on ContactPoint finally released on ICO orders.

The official study, which ministers refused to publish for more than two years, disclosed that “residual” dangers remained in ContactPoint despite efforts to make the system safe.

It pointed out that security standards differed at councils using the online register of all 11million children in England, while the personal information it contained could be leaked if old computers were sold on eBay.

The confidential Deloitte “security review” confirms fears that vulnerable young people could have been put at greater risk by ContactPoint, rather than being protected by it.

It states: “It should be noted that risk can only be managed, not eliminated, and therefore there will always be a risk of data security incidents occurring.”

6 August 2010

ContactPoint abolished

Montrose42 Blog:

“Although  it could be argued the principle  behind ContactPoint was sound, the practice was a mess and frankly the coalition government had little alternative but to scrap it.

It is also worth noting that in a vast majority of recent child abuse cases, including the Victoria Climbie tragedy, which provided the main impetus behind the scheme, social workers knew that the respective children were at risk but failed to act  properly to protect them.

In short, if ContactPoint had been running at the time it would have made no difference to the fate of these unfortunate children.”

15 August 2010

Curriculum for Excellence implemented in Scotland

The Curriculum for Excellence was implemented in Scotland’s schools in session  2010−11. Its implementation was to be overseen by Education Scotland.

Scottish teachers and the EIS union saw CfE as vague, especially its ‘outcomes and experiences’. They feared it would result in lack of clarity in what was expected of and in the assessment of pupils’ progress and attainment.

25 August 2010

GIRFEC – Highland Pathfinder

Forms reveal collection of data on every child, family member and even pets.

9 November 2010

Was ContactPoint illegal? Basically, yes

HEF discussion of The Register article suggesting that the previous government might have broken the law in collecting all that personal information.

“Instead of simply passing a law enabling the Secretary of State to set up a database for purposes of child protection, the Children Act 2004, refined by regulations published in 2007, went into mind-boggling detail as to what the Department might do. Section 12 of that Act reads rather more like a management data specification than UK legislation. It states that the Department may collect information such as the name, address, gender and date of birth, an identifying number and contact details of any person with parental responsibility.

Crucially, by including so much detail, it raises the possibility that collecting information not on this list is likely to be unlawful.”

17 November 2010

eCare / GIRFEC inter-Agency Communication Tool (iACT) Privacy Impact Assessment

This Report summarised the results of a Privacy Impact Assessment on the Scottish Government  eCare iACT application, which enhances the existing eCare data sharing Framework  with  targeted messaging capabilities, to support the data sharing requirements of the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) policy.

This PIA was carried out as part of the eCare iACT project, which aims to provide the data sharing capabilities required to support GIRFEC policy objectives of early intervention and better coordinated services for children and families.

“The privacy workshop engagement sessions with practitioners and representatives from third sector organisations, were productive in enabling risks, issues and mitigations to be discussed. Email consultation proved ineffective and had a very low response.

“Resource constraints and challenges around direct engagement with children mean that the data subjects themselves have not been engaged with the PIA process to date. This is being taken forward by the eCare and GIRFEC programmes and will be addressed in the Recommendations in GIRFEC and the eCare iACT project.”

30 November 2010

Tales from a small country: Education, integrated services and universal surveillance

(Subrosa Blog guest post)

What is happening to Scottish education only makes sense when CfE is seen as one of many components in the multi-agency  brave new world of Girfec and eCare; with its insatiable appetite for more and more interoperable data in the form of a common language of quality and performance indicators.

Education is no longer a distinctive policy field and this has huge implications for the teaching profession. Initially integrated services were presented as a way of ensuring that “at risk” children did not “slip through the net”. This then came to apply to all children. And now integrated services are to cater for all citizens ‘from cradle to grave’. Lifelong “learning” for all.

1 December 2010 

Stirling Council pilots universal data sharing “to identify families in need”

Exercising the power of wellbeing*

“In December 2010 initial discussions took place with a business analytics company to pull together appropriate data sets from across (Stirling) Council to identify families in need. This was conducted in a pilot project. Information from the following Council information systems was consolidated and analysis of those children and families has proved highly valuable in decision making regarding services and interventions. Service Area System Social Services SWIFT Education SEEMIS Housing Northgate Youth Services Cognisoft IO Community Wardens APP Civica Research Team Government demographic data, CACI ACORN Segmentation data Substance Misuse Government demographic data Forth Valley GIS Gazetteer.”

“… it was possible to see, at a glance, the full history of a vulnerable child on the screen. The information allowed decision making staff and case workers to see school attendance, attainment, previous addresses, changes in name, housing repairs, police reports pertaining to the address and Criminal Justice data sets, to name but a few.”

[* An illegal use of Local Govt Act power]

7 December 2010

Highland GIRFEC forms obtained by FOI

“Please supply me with electronic copies of every version of the Public Health Nursing Record forms and/or Public Health Family Nursing Record forms used during the Highland Girfec pathfinder project. Also please supply me with electronic copies of the versions of these documents currently being used.”

11 December

Early intervention and universal surveillance – “the sort of thing Hitler talked about” 

(Subrosa Blog guest post)

“Frank Field  (Cameron’s Poverty Czar), favours an “Index of Life Opportunities” to identify children in need of support in their earliest years which would measure children’s social and emotional development, cognitive and language skills, communication skills and well-being . Cameron has recently welcomed this proposal 

“Early intervention programmes identify those deemed at risk of not achieving government defined outcomes. To do this requires the collection of huge amounts of highly personal data on every child and associated adults. Early intervention is the the latest cover story for databasing the population.

14 December 2010

Big Brother Scotland thread started on HEF

To keep track of developments, beginning with the Scottish Review’s investigations into GIRFEC information-gathering and sharing

Extensive list of links to relevant articles, documents and comments.

***Must read***

24 December 2010

Mind your own: Scotland unveils privacy principles

The Register

Scottish Government has published new guidance on achieving privacy-friendly public services.

John Swinney said: “Respect for privacy should be central to the way public services manage personal data. I want the public to be able to trust and have confidence in Scottish public services that are not only effective but also secure and privacy-friendly”.

ROFL, as the young ones say


7 February 2011

Scotland’s secret files: A two-part expose of the Scottish database state

In this pair of articles, Kenneth Roy of the Scottish Review exposes the extent of the Scottish database state: the true nature of the long-awaited ‘privacy principles’ and the back-door introduction of a compulsory ID scheme for Scotland. In both cases, its children whose liberties are first on the line.

22 March 2011

A Pathway of Care for Vulnerable Families (0-3)

Guidance to support the implementation of Getting it right for every child through continous assessment and a continuum of support.

Comment on HEF: GIRFEC in disguise

6 May 2011

Stunning SNP election victory throws spotlight on Scottish independence

The scale of the SNP’s victory was clear: Salmond had won Holyrood’s first overall majority and a total of 69 seats – a result he believes has swept aside his opponents’ last hopes of blocking his plans for a referendum on independence.

10 May 2011

Munro review of child protection: final report – a child-centred system

This final report of the Munro review sets out proposals for reform which, taken together, are intended to create the conditions that enable professionals to make the best judgments about the help to give children, young people and families. This involves moving from a system that has become over-bureaucratised and focused on compliance to one that values and develops professional expertise and is focused on the safety and welfare of children and young people.

June 2011

The child/young person’s pathway (GIRFEC in Lanarkshire)

First publication of the poster for practitioners that was not thought to be “helpful” for parents.

September 2011

NORTHERN EXPOSURE Lessons from the first twelve years of devolved government in Scotland

Sir John Elvidge’s report summarises the switch in focus he implemented (from 2007 as head of the Scottish civil service) from targets to outcomes and “government as a single organisation working towards a single defined government purpose”. Ripping up of organisational boundaries

[Basically the dumbing down of professionals such as teachers into box tickers for the state].

12 October 2011

SNP’s quiet revolution behind the scenes treads a fine line between good and bad governance

The Scotsman

Comment on the John Elvidge report: Northern Exposure (September 2011) – see previous entry.

18 October 2011

Tales from a small country – Yes, First Minister (Guest Post)

Subrosa blog (edited excerpts)

Sir John says that “radical changes he made under the minority SNP party in 2007 – which involved abolishing departments, redefining top civil service roles and aligning the entire Scottish public sector around a single framework of national purpose that would be tracked and measured – were a world first.”

In late 2010, Professor Stiglitz became a member of the Council of Economic Advisers which was set up in 2007 to advise the First Minister on the best way to improve Scotland’s sustainable economic growth rate and last month a stampede of NGOs signed up to a briefing paper urging the Government to revise the National Performance Framework along the lines recommended by the “Carnegie Round Table” which puts a kilt on the Stiglitz report.

Meanwhile the “over-arching purpose” of  this system seems to be changing to bring us in line with a report commissioned by a French president, written by an American economist, rubber stamped by the EU and  currently being implemented across the globe. Interesting times, as they say…

So where exactly do our elected members fit into this process? And would the process have been any different with another variety of politician “in power”?  Sir John seems to have a pretty cosy relationship with the last lot too.


1 January 2012

Intimidation in Highland

One family’s story* of intimidation by professionals in Highland, as told on HEF.

“We were subjected to intimidating behaviour from the school and the council. They insisted that we put our child to school in spite of the safety concerns. We refused! We were bombarded with calls and threats of the police being called. The police were sent eleven days later. They used a three day policy on unexplained absence against us, even though we had spoken to staff at the school, left messages on the school answering machine, contacted a local education officer and written to the Chief Executive of the Highland Council.”

[* One of many stories]

13 March 2012

GIRFEC programme board meeting

See also

Every agency is to be expected to snoop on citizens and share personal data.

“The importance of linking in with housing personnel was also raised, as they are often the only ones going into a house.”

14 March 2012

Fears tests will be used to label toddlers crooks

Daily Express

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme is to test toddlers aged two to find out whether they are at risk of growing up to be a violent offender or drug addict

The initiative, to be launched in Glasgow this year, will measure the mental health of every youngster aged between 24 and 30 months.

Health visitors will complete a questionnaire with parents to establish any behaviour difficulties in children, such as aggression, bullying, lying and cheating.

Toddlers will also be assessed on their language skills, with a poor vocabulary potentially indicating problems such as autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The aim is to try to establish their capacity for violent offending, drug abuse and mental illness in later life.

Families with at risk youngsters will then be offered support, such as parenting classes or language enrichment programmes for the children

Experts hope the Healthy Child programme, which is one of the most radical of its kind in Europe, will help tackle appalling levels of violence and drug abuse in Glasgow.

Despite studies linking poor mental health in pre-school children to violence in later life, only a small minority of people with antisocial or behavioural problems are picked up by health or social services at an early age.

But critics have raised concerns that the “Big Brother” style approach could lead to very young children being branded as problematic.

26 June 2012

GIRFEC programme board meeting

See also:

Information Sharing

The board’s attention was brought to two emerging risks:

• Local development may lead to local information silos, meaning there may be difficulties sharing information where children cross geographical boundaries.

• Local solutions may not factor in third sector access for inclusion in secure information sharing systems.

In discussion, the board recognised that there was a legal emphasis on data protection rather than data sharing. There were two main approaches to a national electronic information sharing solution: a national database or minimum requirements for any system. Glasgow were looking at the possibility of sharing information across boundaries on looked after children using SEEMiS.

The board agreed that it gave its strongest encouragement that information sharing across boundaries and with the third sector should be included in local solutions.

4 July 2012

Consultation launched on forthcoming Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill

HEF discussion of consultation on the forthcoming Children and Young People Bill

Named Person concept described as “a practitioner who can monitor what children and young people need”

7 August 2012

GIRFEC Outcomes Framework Report (local copy here)

Getting it right for every child and young person (Getting it right): A framework for measuring children’s wellbeing. Prepared for the Scottish Government by Bob Stradling and Morag MacNeil, Getting it right Evaluation Team, University of Edinburgh.

The Getting it right for every child and young person Core Components

1. A focus on improving outcomes for children, young people and their families based on
a shared understanding of well-being.
2. A common approach to gaining consent and to sharing information where
3. An integral role for children, young people and families in assessment, planning and
4. A co-ordinated and unified approach to identifying concerns, assessing needs,
agreeing actions and outcomes, based on the Well-being Indicators.
5. Streamlined planning, assessment and decision-making processes that lead to the
right help at the right time.
6. Consistent high standards of co-operation, joint working and communication where
more than one agency needs to be involved, locally and across Scotland.
7. A Lead Professional to co-ordinate and monitor inter-agency activity where
8. Maximising the skilled workforce within universal services to address needs and risks
at the earliest possible time.
9. A confident and competent workforce across all services for children, young people
and their families.
10. The capacity to share demographic, assessment, and planning information
electronically, within and across agency boundaries, through the national eCare
programme where appropriate.

…there is no agreed definition of well-being, not even within academic research, and a number of terms including welfare, life satisfaction, quality of life, happiness, mental health and well-being seem to be used interchangeably in much of the policy and research literature, depending on context and purpose.

Page 14

Electronic systems for recording information and plans have been developed for health, education and social work and the potential for these systems to interact with each other is being explored. Technological systems remain to be developed. Currently the Scottish Government is working with partners to develop a secure web-based inter-Agency Communication Tool (iACT) to facilitate appropriate electronic information sharing across all agencies working with children. This is still in development and will seek in the future to support best practice under Getting it right where information is shared using a common language and understanding based around the well-being indicators. Considerable further work would be required to aggregate individual outcomes at local or national level. However, the potential exists to achieve this if there is a willingness to embed into practice the Getting it right common language, the practice model, a standard template for a Child’s Plan which provides for systematic recording of outcomes and investment in electronic sharing of information and plans. An over-arching requirement would be a national Information Strategy which emphasises the importance of ‘outcomes’ and joint working, achieving buy-in at all levels to appropriately share targeted information about children and young people and collecting sanitised data on outcomes and the activities and processes that lead to them.

11 September 2012

GIRFEC Board meeting

See also: GIRFEC Programme Board minutes: highlights and low points

Consultation on Children and Young People Bill ongoing

Points raised in discussion included: tensions involved in the provision of a Named Person from age 5 for home educated children.

Agreement to enlist ICO to advise on info sharing at a threshold of potential risk to wellbeing.

Information Sharing: Risk to wellbeing leading to significant harm

Allan Moffat presented the paper on sharing concerns about a child’s wellbeing. highlighting the difficulties in sharing information where a concern is below the level of a child protection concern. The board agreed that engagement with the Scottish Information Commissioner should take place in order to open a discussion on the extent to which information could be shared without consent if there was a concern that there was a risk or potential risk to wellbeing.

1 October 2012

Early Years Collaborative launch

Leslie Evans speaks at the launch of the Early Years Collaborative. Promotion of predictive (junk) science to encourage mass universal data gathering and sharing (as per Tony Blair’s policy).

Comment from observer: “The film that is shown to encourage collaboration is very interesting – encouraging blind following in order to avoid being “ridiculed” for not joining in, “as more join in it’s no longer risky” – “and that ladies and gentlemen is how a movement is made…There’s no movement without the first follower.”

In other words, how to build an army of useful idiots who will just follow orders.

3 October 2012

National Parenting Strategy: Making a positive difference to children and young people through parenting

The Scottish Government’s aspiration is for Scotland to be the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up. The National Parenting Strategy seeks to turn this aspiration into practical action – by championing the importance of parenting, by strengthening the support on offer to parents and by making it easier for them to access this support [SHANARRI dictated, whether they want it or not].

November 2012

National Risk Framework to Support the Assessment of Children and Young People (local copy here)

The useful idiots’ guide to tick-box tyranny based on prevention (i.e. junk) science. This document makes no mention ‘consent’ or ‘confidentiality’, yet requires professionals to breach overarching human rights and data protection legislation by gathering and sharing sensitive personal data on children, parents, other family members and associated adults without the need for their informed, freely given consent, or even their knowledge.

“…there is a need to take account of, not only current circumstances but past history and future potentials. This means we have to investigate and explore family circumstances in some detail in order to acquire adequate grasp of how needs may have gone unmet and how risk circumstances may have emerged. Using the understandings acquired, Named Persons, Lead Professionals and others then need to project the future probability or likelihood of harm and to determine if this harm is significant in nature or not. Projection of probable risk of harm significantly also means that there is a potential for error in terms of what we think may occur. This is no small task indeed.”

“The Risk Recording Sheets should not be given out to children/families to complete. Rather, they should be used by practitioners to provide as comprehensive a picture as possible. They are, thus, an aid to ensuring that all relevant information is being gathered and where information is not known, to assist professionals make a decision as to whether this information is necessary to the decision making process. The risk indicators may also help support and inform discussions between the child and their family and the services involved in developing appropriate and proportionate responses to the needs/risks identified. In all circumstances practitioners should seek to obtain an overview of the child’s world (the child’s/family’s history, family composition and relationships) in order to make better sense of what may be going on. To achieve this all work with children and young people should be supported by the use of clear Chronologies, Genograms and EcoMaps. ”

The Generic Risk Indicators from page 39 onwards are especially shocking, demonstrating that every child is deemed to be at risk and every parent/carer is deemed to be a risk. A truly disturbing document which encourages the breaching of human rights and data protection legislation.

23 November 2012 

A ‘good meeting’ was held  betweenICO and GIRFEC team (minutes have been elusive, still trying to pin them down).

27 November 2012

GIRFEC Board meeting

GIRFEC minutes reveal concealment of data theft agenda from the public  until fully embedded. See also: GIRFEC Programme Board minutes: highlights and low points


“There was a suggestion that we need to do more to “take the community with us”. Families, carers and children were not, it was said, switched on to GIRFEC. Boyd McAdam pointed out that it had been a conscious decision to focus first on embedding GIRFEC in the professional practice of all stakeholder delivery bodies, before raising awareness in the general public

There was a need for a coherent and united national message on GIRFEC and how other areas knitted together. Messages even at Ministerial level could do more to make clear that GIRFEC is the overarching programme.”

HEF comment:

In other words, deliberate concealment until it was too late. That chimes with recent third sector workshop sessions we have heard about in the south of Scotland where participants were told that the public really didn’t need to know any of the detail as they might be confused. Even more worrying for our informant was when it was mentioned that the children were just the start of GIRFEC being rolled out to all citizens and community (but we already knew that).


“Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

Martin Crewe gave a verbal update. There had been a good meeting on 23 November 2012 with Ken MacDonald, some Board members, GIRFEC officials and information specialists. Discussion centred on the requirements of the Data Protection Act and ICO stressed neither the Act or ICO – should be seen as a barrier. Information about children should be shared appropriately when justified, but the rationale for doing so should be also be documented.”


1. GIRFEC team to produce statement to encourage shift: ICO to endorse this.
2. Joint work between ICO and GIRFEC on consent guidance including Alan Small examples* to give reassurance on this.

It’s important that these messages are widely received.”

[* these examples would come from Fife where toddler Liam Fee was abused and murdered]

13 December 2012

“Exercising the power of wellbeing” (Stirling Council)

Stirling Council (wrongly*) awards itself the power under the Local Government Act 2003 “to legitimise the collection, sharing and use of personal data on all children for the Vulnerable Children and Young People Project”.

See also:   

[* Lawyer Allan Norman refutes the following attempted justification – see later timeline entry]

“In November 2012 the Assistant Chief Executive (Care, Health & Wellbeing), Assistant Chief Constable and the Council’s legal adviser met with representatives from the Information Commissioner’s Office. The purpose of the meeting was to apprise the Information Commissioner’s Office of the Council’s plans to develop this reporting system. The Information Commissioner’s Office endorsed the proposal to exercise the power of well-being to legitimise the collection, sharing and use of personal data on all children for the Vulnerable Children and Young People Project”. [ Not very mindful of Article 28(1) of the EU DP Directive, and wrong!]

“Stirling Council’s powers

3.9 Stirling Council derives its powers entirely from statute. To ensure that it does not act beyond its powers, the Council must ensure that all of its actions are provided for in statute.

3.10 There are no express statutory powers to collect, use and share data in relation to children and young people provided for in statute. Further, the consultation paper on the proposed Children & Young Person’s Bill, which was published in July 2012, stated at paragraph 120 that the Act will not contain new express statutory powers to share information between services where there are concerns about children & young People. Instead, whilst acknowledging that “information sharing can be a complex and, at times, confusing legal environment for practitioners” the consultation paper provided that “the intention is that information sharing would occur within existing legal frameworks”.

3.11 Section 69 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 provides that Local Authorities are empowered to do anything which is “calculated to facilitate, or is conducive to or incidental to the discharge of any of its functions”. This enables the Council to look to the service or function which the data sharing supports for its implied power to data share.

3.12 Under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 the Council has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of looked after children and to promote the welfare of children in need. Data sharing clearly will support the discharge of these functions and so the data sharing may be legitimised but only for looked after children and children in need. The Vulnerable Children and Young People Project seeks to share data about all children and so the terms of The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 are insufficient to legitimise the Project. The Power of Well-being

3.13 The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 provides the Council with a discretionary power to “do anything which it considers is likely to promote or improve the well-being of:- a. its area and persons within that area; or b. either of those.”

3.14 The term “well-being” is not defined in the Act but there is some assistance to be found in the statutory guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers on the 2003 Act, to which Local Authorities are obliged to have regard (see Appendix 1). This refers at Paragraph 1.4 to the Act as an “important part of the Scottish Executive’s local government modernisation agenda and its drive to see continuous improvement in public services” and to “enable local authorities to work and deliver in partnership with other agencies and communities”. It also specifically refers at Paragraph 1.6 to social factors such as “looking after the needs of children and young people, particularly the most vulnerable” as a key factor which would contribute to the promotion or improvement of well-being.

3.15 The guidance makes it clear that this power is a broad ranging power and refers to it as “a power of first resort”, to be used when there is doubt about whether existing powers would enable a particular course of action or service delivery. The power is subject to various limitations none of which apply in these circumstances.

3.16 It is considered that the Vulnerable Children and Young Persons Project is a legitimate use of the power of well-being.” [Big oops!]


12 February 2013

GIRFEC Board meeting

Minutes reveal: Good meeting with ICO and it had been agreed that GIRFEC team would produce a statement to encourage a shift in threshold. A joint statement* agreed to clarify pathway to free up info sharing under current law. GPs were still not playing ball, but police were great, housing productive and supportive on info sharing.

*Partiality on the part of the ICO contravenes Article 28(1) of the EU Data Protection Directive, as detailed on page 19 of Data Protection in the European Union: the role of National Data Protection Authorities

See also: GIRFEC Programme Board minutes: highlights and low points


“Allan Moffat asked Jane about information sharing. Jane said they used clear direction and intent, and were introducing a single approach. The work was being piloted.

Jane highlighted issues with GPs, due to their structures and contracts. In comparison they had very good relationships with the police. The Minister was keen that more work with GPs was done to break the barriers.

Carol Kirk said working with Housing was very productive as they had access to information and were supportive. Housing officers could identify long-term, low level neglect. Sharon made the point that people were still trying to get used to working together.”

“Boyd updated the Board on the issues around sharing information without consent.

joint statement has been agreed with the Information Commissioner’s Office which should help clarify situations where a child was on a pathway to risk to wellbeing as well as significant risk of harm. The statement should free up the way practitioners share information under existing law. However there were concerns on how best to disseminate the message in a way that did not produce an adverse reaction for stakeholders.”

21 February 2013

Evidence2Success school surveys in Perth & Kinross slammed by parents

E2S school surveys in P&K attract parental complaints about inappropriate questions and lack of consent.

See also: 

March 2013

UNCRC: the foundation of Girfec report by Professor Jane Aldgate OBE

A flawed attempt to map GIRFEC to the UNCRC, with not a single mention of Article 16 (privacy) and a failure to recognise the differences, tensions and inherent incompatibility of self determined rights and state outcomes. Same trap as ECM/ContactPoint/eCAf which were disposed of by the JCHR in 2004.

We are concerned that, if the justification for information-sharing about children is that it [ie universal coverage] is always proportionate where the purpose is to identify children who need welfare services, there is no meaningful content left to a child’s Article 8 right to privacy and confidentiality in their personal information.

8 March 2013

AYRShare goes live

AYRshare is an innovative computer system developed by NHS Ayrshire & Arran in partnership with East, North and South Ayrshire Councils. It provides effective, timely and secure sharing of information between organisations to help address concerns about the well-being and protection of children and young people. It therefore directly supports the implementation of the Scottish Government’s “Getting it Right for Every Child” (GIRFEC) policy.

[A description of data sharing below the legal threshold]

13 March 2013

Haringey judgment issued

HEF discussion: Haringey council tried to crush our family

Instructing solicitor was Allan Norman who highlights the disappearance of references to working together in safeguarding guidance. Appellant comments that Haringey Council procedures akin to Stalinism.

“Key element was failure to follow procedure (the checks and balances might have prevented escalation ) and the law which was clearly broken:

‘(76) The initial data-gathering exercise was unlawful in two respects: The initial request for data was sent to EF’s GP accompanied by the erroneous information that LBH was currently working with the family, that LBH was already undertaking a CYPS assessment and that confidential details including the possible presence of risk indicators of physical abuse, should be provided. In addition to these statements or implications being erroneous, no consent had been obtained from EF’s parents and it was not a justification to seek the information without consent that their identity was not at that time known since this statement was also untrue. The consent of the parents had not been obtained before the school was approached. Moreover, it was impermissible to post details of the referral on RIO to enable the school nurse to read them prior to obtaining the parents’ consent.
(77) These were serious departures from permissible practice and these actions were unlawful.’”

28 March 2013

ICO memo on GIRFEC ‘wellbeing’ information sharing circulated

The GIRFEC Programme Board and Ken MacDonald, the Assistant Information Commissioner for Scotland (ICO), have agreed a short guidance paper which dispels the common misconception that the Data Protection Act (1998) is a reason not to share information.

[Runs contrary to newly-issued Haringey ruling, did they not notice?]

8 April 2013

Information sharing between services – guidance and clarity

Letter from Martin Crewe, Chair of the Getting it right for every child Programme Board, c/o Life Chances Unit, Children’s Rights and Wellbeing:

Dear Community Planning Partnership Managers

I am writing to you in my capacity as Chair of the Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) Programme Board because I want to share an important clarification about information sharing between services.

The GIRFEC Programme Board and Ken MacDonald, the Assistant Information Commissioner for Scotland (ICO), have agreed a short guidance paper which dispels the common misconception that the Data Protection Act (1998) is a reason not to share information.

It will be important reading for:

  • Professionals who work with children and young people
  • Professionals who work with adults who impact on the lives
  • Senior managers and data controllers

Information sharing between services is vital to ensure that our children’s life chances are maximised, and that Scotland is the best place to grow up in.

Whilst the ICO in its capacity as a regulator does issue substantial penalties for breach Data Protection breaches, they emphasised these penalties are aimed at systemic failures and not practitioners making good faith decisions to share information in the best interests of children.

The paper tells you how to balance concerns about ‘fair processing’ with making the decision to share: please circulate it around chief officers within your Community Planning Partnership.

If you need further advice, please contact Boyd McAdam, Head of the Better Life Chances Unit at the Scottish Government on 0131 244 5320.

Martin Crewe

Attached – Information sharing between services – guidance from Information Commissioner and the GIRFEC Programme Board


There is currently some lack of clarity in practice about when it is permissible to share information and when it isn’t.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998) is being used as a reason not to share information between services even though there may be a concern about a child or young person’s well-being.

We want to be clear that the Data Protection Act (1998) is designed to assist information sharing, while also protecting the right of the individual to have their data fairly processed.

GIRFEC is based on eight indicators of well-being – safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included. In many cases, a risk to well-being can be a strong indication that the child or young person could be at risk of harm if the immediate matter is not addressed.

Because GIRFEC is about early intervention and prevention it is very likely that information may need to be shared before a situation reaches crisis. In the GIRFEC approach, a child’s Named Person may have concerns about the child’s well-being, or other individuals or agencies may have concerns that they wish to share with the Named Person.

While it is important to protect the rights of individuals, it is equally important to ensure that our children are protected from risk of harm.

Where there is any risk of the child or young person being on a pathway that may lead to harm, the decision should always be to share.

The Data Protection Act (1998) says that an individual’s data should be processed fairly The issue of obtaining consent can be difficult and it should only be sought when the individual has real choice over the matter and the proposals should be clear about those circumstances which may necessitate processing without consent. Where required, consent should be fully informed and freely given. Where circumstances exist where consent may not be appropriate, the Act provides conditions to allow processing to proceed.

If information is likely to be shared to safeguard and promote a child’s well-being,  the child, family third party should be told that information appropriate will be shared  and consent should not be offered as an option.

It is very important that the practitioner uses all available information before they decide whether to share or not. Experience, professional instinct and other available information will all help with the decision making process.

If there is any doubt, then invariably the decision should be to share.

It’s vital that the practitioner records the decision they have made – including the rationale behind making it. If the decision were to be challenged, they would need to have an accountable record that they made the decision in good faith and in the child’s best interests.

Please share this information with employees, colleagues and partners, endorsing its content.

Information sharing between services is vital to ensure that our every child’s life chances are maximised, and we can describe Scotland as the best place to grow up.

Martin Crewe, Chair, GIRFEC Programme Board                                                         

Ken MacDonald,  Assistant Information   Commissioner Scotland

Further information: Boyd McAdam, Head of the Scottish Government’s Better Life Chances Unit

9 April 2013

Human rights have disappeared from ‘Working Together’

UK Human Rights Blog article by Allan Norman on safeguarding guidance (England) post Haringey judgment in which he was the instructing solicitor.

“The outcome of our case would be the same, before or after the introduction of ‘Working Together 2013’. The crucial difference is that the new guidance no longer gives the necessary steer to get it right.

The bottom line is that overarching law, both EU law and human rights law, is the same both the week before and the week after judgment. Nor does this new version of ‘Working Together’ coincide with any chance in primary legislation. So ‘Working Together 2010’ and ‘Working Together 2013’ offer guidance within the same legal framework.

10 April 2013

DSTB Health and Social Care Data Sharing Information Architecture Review

Summary of the current and planned approaches health and social care data sharing in Scotland. Input was obtained from all Data Sharing Partnership areas in Scotland (henceforth referred to as areas or regions) on the data that they shared, or planned to share, how sharing was achieved, as well as the achieved and expected business benefits

Edited highlights:

5.2.4. GIRFEC Chronologies A smaller number of areas share GIRFEC style chronologies of significant events in a child’s life (e.g. date, type, title of event, recorded by, notes/action taken and a Red/Amber/Green code). Once shared these chronologies can be integrated and all significant events in a child’s life at a particular point in time can be viewed and assessed. The format of the chronologies are very similar with only a couple of minor differences. Lanarkshire eCare West Lothian C-me Ayrshire AYRshare

5.4. National Information Sharing The study found little awareness of the likely duties to be imposed on Local authorities and Health Boards by the Children and Young Persons Bill due in 2015. All public bodies will be required to share any information that they have, which may indicate a risk to a child’s well-being. In effect this introduces a threshold where information must be shared far below that which is currently regarded as Child Protection. It is recommended that the requirements and options for cross border data sharing are properly reviewed with key stakeholders with scrutiny on the merits and sustainability of each approach. There may be an opportunity to share well-being concerns in a similar or identical manner as Child Protection alerts

9.3. National Child Protection Alerts  The GIRFEC focus on early and effective intervention requires information to be shared with a child’s Named Person at the first sign of risk to well-being far in advance of Child Protection measures. Alerts relating to child protection could be expanded to meet the requirements of the Children and Young Persons Bill and the scope altered to include well-being concerns.

11.1.5. GIRFEC Support  Chronologies:  Show a chronology of significant events in the child’s life (e.g. start date, end date, type, title of event, source agency, recorded by, notes/action taken and a RAG code or positive/negative flag) ) including all well-being concerns Support filtering and sorting by various criteria A chronology could be merged from 2 or more sharing agencies, triggered by an authority to share in the source system The solution could also allow direct manual update of chronologies Documentation Allow sharing of My World Triangle Assessments, Plans, Well-being Indicators, Resilience Matrix Concerns Securely share information/concerns raised (by any adult who in the normal course of their duties has contact with a child) with a child’s Named Person.

11.1.11. Other Possible Data (not just for children) There are a several other types of data that is already being shared by a minority of areas, are planned to be shared, or have been suggested as desirable features by an area. Concerns Reviews Notes and correspondence. Encounters and appointments (current and future) Ward stays Carer demographics Service requests for home care, equipment and adaptations, specialist assessments e.g. OT and income maximisation. Service provision e.g. actual verses requested Adult chronologies (in a similar format to GIRFEC children’s chronologies) Adult alerts, i.e. show a warning / hazard indicator with instructions to refer to practitioners for more info, and the practitioner contact details Secure messaging between professionals (possibly with restricted emails, e.g. .gov or .nhs addresses only. But would then exclude use by third sector etc.). Emails could only contain the service users name and link to the record in the shared data to reduce the risk of inappropriate data sharing. Automatic equipment prescriptions Confidential transfer of case information with attachments Search professional contact data Case Load Management A homescreen shows recent logins, site notifications, notifications of changes to linked service and user history Missing Persons Alerts Automatic synchronisations of demographics between linked agency systems (eg Social Work) and the NHS SCI Store Looked after children indicator Notification of A&E attendances to other agencies.

11.2.Partners At the moment most data sharing only involves MHS secondary care and social work departments. However in the longer term a much wider number of partners could be involved: Health, including GPs, A&E, out-of-hours, community nursing, ambulance service and mental health Local Authority, including Social Work, Education and Housing Police Fire and Rescue Third sector agencies, e.g. charities providing services and running care homes Private sector, e.g. care home providers, private nurseries, private schools Members of the public, including children, families and guardians Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration Other areas of the criminal justice system.

As for the ‘Final Solution’, see Attachment 3 – Detailed Solution Catalogue (from page 40), which should scare the living daylights out of anyone who values the right to privacy.

17 April 2013

GIRFEC Board meeting

Minutes reveal concern that threshold too high to fit with Early Intervention. ICO ‘advice’ being tested with health partners. GP concerns ongoing. Minister said anxieties needed to be managed. National Parent Forum offered to help GIRFEC board.

See also: GIRFEC Programme Board minutes: highlights and low points

“Risk and Issue Register

Pauline gave an update on the paper to the Board (GIRPB/10/04/a and GIRPB/10/04/b). She added that no feedback had been received and talked through the Risks as follows:

Risks 1 & 2 remained at 12, but action was being taken;  Risk 3 was reduced due to the debate in Parliament; refocus of the Board; and the aim of the Working Groups;
The other three Risks remained as they were; It was noted that Information Sharing was still Red.”

“Information Sharing Alan Small

Alan gave the Board an update on information sharing (GIRPB/10/07). He said that as an action from the last meeting, there were concerns that the current threshold being used was too high and didn’t fit with early intervention. Advice from the ICO was tested with health partners and a statement on information sharing from the Information Commissioner’s Office was published on 8 April.”

“Andrew Sutherland added that this was very positive but that some bodies will be more risk averse than others. The Minister said that this was the first step to build upon.

Ralph Roberts mentioned dissemination and that there were· a lot of messages from GP’s. Bob Fraser added that the Royal College had the final version of the statement but that they were still considering it within Scotland. The British Medical Association was still to consult with the General Medical Council.

The Minister added that we· needed to figure out how to manage anxieties from some of the professions. Alan Small added a further report on reactions would be brought to the next meeting of the Board.”

1 May 2013

AYRShare Newsletter

AYRshare is now live! Following successful testing and delivery of training to over one hundred practitioners, AYRshare is now live in the Prestwick/Troon locality of South Ayrshire. During May, access to AYRshare will be provided to more practitioners throughout the rest of South Ayrshire. We are also working with North and East Ayrshire Councils to implement the system in the coming months.

“It provides a simple, user friendly and effective way to share information with our partners in order to protect children and improve their [state defined] outcomes. It’s an excellent example of GIRFEC in practice.” – Clinical Team Leader, NHS Ayrshire & Arran

Confessions of an AYRshare User

“As a practitioner in Education in South Ayrshire, I am the Named Person for all students within my school – over 1,000 young people. The lines of communication for such a large amount <sic> of young people can be immense. Therefore the opportunities offered by AYRshare will no doubt lead to a faster flow of information and a more concentrated approach to identifying young people’s [state defined] needs. This will ensure that effective provision and appropriate support is available to them.

“We have waited for a long time to have an electronic information sharing solution and we thought this would never happen as we heard various systems being talked about over the years. Since the beginning of AYRshare there has been a real drive and determination to make a system that works for the practitioners which is effective and user friendly. This has been done in consultation with the practitioners [no mention of the public being warned] and delivers exactly what it promises. It provides a simple, user friendly and effective way to share information with our partners in order to protect children and improve their outcomes. It’s an excellent example of GIRFEC in practice.

“The major benefit for my organisation will be the availability of plans and significant events from partner agencies, applying the GIRFEC practice model. This information can be used by my school to formulate plans at both school and authority level to secure additional support for young people. It must however be recognised that this availability of on-line information will not replace the monthly Joint Support Team discussions and Professionals Meetings that form the basis of our commitment to meeting the needs of our young people. [‘our’ young people, owned by the state]

“The other major advantage of AYRshare is the regular updates on pupil information from different agencies. This is essential to ensure that Education is aware of any changes to young people’s lives and of the necessary additional support they require to realise their potential. It is hoped that as more agencies such as the Police and Fire Service contribute to AYRshare, as well as automatic updates from SEEMIS on young people’s significant events, the influence of AYRshare will become integral to how we work together in partnership.” – Depute Head Teacher, South Ayrshire Council


4 May 2013

Petition launched: Reject GIRFEC surveillance and named person for every child in Scotland


2-9 May 2013

Evidence2Success school surveys: parental complaints to ICO closed down

Emails obtained by FOI

2 May 2013: Email Subject: Evidence2Success From D Henderson (P&K) To Maureen Falconer (ICO)

Maureen, I have just received a letter from ICO (Case Ref RFA0484578) which appears to be another complaint about the above. The case officer is xxxx. Perhaps you could hoover this one up as part of the work you are already doing? Can I leave this for you to get back to me rather than me contacting the case officer? On a related topic, the Director of Education wants to put a report to committee at the end of this month on the initial findings of the survey and would dearly love to make reference to the complaints being closed (as I’m sure you can imagine). Are you able to give any indication when you might close the case? Thanks, Donald

9 May 2013: Email Re: Evidence2Success From: Maureen Falconer(ICO) To: Donald Henderson (P&K)

Thank you once again for organising the meeting with the Director of Education and the others in respect of the above survey. It was very helpful indeed in getting an accurate account of the processes involved and reassurance on compliance with data protection obligations. I’ve spoken with my colleague, about the meeting and related my findings. is going to contact you again to request something in writing from you to close the RFA case and I am about to write up a note of our meeting with my findings which I’ll attach to both cases.

Certainly, in respect of the case I am dealing with, I shall be contacting her to let her know that I am content with the assurances from Perth & Kinross Council that the survey was conducted in compliance with your obligations under the Act.

At that point her complaint will be closed and I expect to do this today or tomorrow at the latest. I should say that although complaint will be closed from the ICO’s perspective, I fully expect communication with her to continue in the short term. I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards, Maureen,

Senior Policy Officer  Information Commissioner’s Office – Scotland, 45 Melville Street, Edinburgh EH3 7HL T. 0131 244 9077

10 May 2013

Scotland The Brave … Or Brave New Scotland?

Subrosa blog (guest post) – edited excerpts.

EVERY child is to have their “wellbeing” (as defined by  ever-expanding “SHANARRI” indicators) recorded by a state-employed “named person” (who cannot be their parent). Those found to be at risk of not achieving their state defined ,Curriculum for Excellence,  outcomes (see the outside of the wheel) will be selected for the appropriate early intervention.

Despite the demise of eCare (at great public expense) due to some adverse publicity, these vast data sets are still to be shared “electronically within and across agency boundaries”.

What of the Data Protection Act? Well the ICO has got rid of that that little “barrier” with this update on Information Sharing Between Services in Respect of Children and Young People.

I only learned very recently that “the DPA is not a barrier, it is an enabler” and that “The drive behind it was to free up the market and to be able to use data which is personal in a protected way to enable that data to be shared.” Please note English readers, both these quotes are from the UK ICO. The Scottish Information Commissioner only deals with FOI requests.

The content of the ICO’s update fits neatly with this recent study.

“The Children and Young Person Bill will negate any requirement for consent prior to information sharing about a risk to a child’s well-being.”

“The study found little awareness of the likely duties to be imposed on Local authorities and Health Boards by the Children and Young Persons Bill due in 2015. All public bodies will be required to share any information that they have, which may indicate a risk to a child’s well-being. In effect this introduces a threshold where information must be shared far below that which is currently regarded as Child Protection.”

“The GIRFEC focus on early and effective intervention requires information to be shared with a child’s Named Person at the first sign of risk to well-being far in advance of Child Protection measures. Alerts relating to child protection could be expanded to meet the requirements of the Children and Young Persons Bill and the scope altered to include well-being concerns.”

Clear Enough? There isn’t a child in Scotland who won’t have multiple “risks” to their wellbeing as defined by the SHANARRI indicators

As the Assistant Commissioner for Scotland (UK ICO) also states in his update that “obtaining consent can be difficult and it should only be sought when the individual has real choice over the matter,” not only will information be shared  routinely without consent but parents need not even be asked for it.

19 May 2013

SNP bill to spy on parents is criticised by families

Sunday Express

Marion Samson, headteacher at Westquarter Primary and Nursery in Falkirk, is a ‘Named Person’ who says her role is to “challenge” families who are not bringing up their children properly.

However, in response to her profile on the government’s Engage for Education blog*, one teacher – giving her name as Sian Dawson – described GIRFEC as “quite a scary notion”.

She wrote: “Perhaps the Scottish Government would be far better tightening up the processes surrounding child protection for those who actually need help rather than not trusting the majority of families to do a good job.”

According to a Scottish Government training document seen by this newspaper, the specific aim of GIRFEC is to undermine parents and give the “community” a greater role in raising children. [All very Hillary Clinton]

It states: “From the time that the child is a baby the family and the community should come together in oneness to raise the child so that the child can grow up to be a pillar of society. In so doing everyone benefits and the community is strengthened.”

[* The Engage for Education blog post and comments were subsequently removed from the website, presumably due to sheer embarrassment. No doubt Marion is still spinning her SHANARRI wheel.]

30 May 2013

Data Sharing Technology Board minutes

P 101 Item 5: Lothian TRAK using Named Person and Lead Professional.

P102: Stirling Council papers on Vulnerable Persons Database (VPD) referenced by Data Management Board (docs now gone but saved by HE forum):

“The guidance makes it clear that this power is a broad ranging power and refers to it as “a power of first resort”, to be used when there is doubt about whether existing powers would enable a particular course of action or service delivery. The power is subject to various limitations none of which apply in these circumstances.”

“It is considered that the Vulnerable Children and Young Persons Project is a legitimate use of the power of well-being*.”

[* Legal opinion refuted this assertion, confirmed by the Supreme Court judgment which ruled wellbeing to be “notably vague” and without legal definition]

7 June 2013

Data Management Board minutes

Copied to HE forums (now gone from the web)

“…the Board is needed to develop a coherent overall picture of the extensive range of data activity underway and needed in Scotland to both help grow the economy and to improve public services.”


“…there should be an assumption towards sharing data, i.e. the default should be ‘share unless there is a good reason not to’ rather than ‘don’t share unless there is a good reason to.’”


“Asked what 3 things would be most helpful to speeding up success, Andrew listed data access, data access and data access.”

7 June 2013

Comments deleted from Engage for Education blog

See also previous timeline entry. Comments were saved on the HE Forum, but the article on the Engage for Education was later deleted (2016) and Marion Samson’s superior and patronising ‘named person’ pontifications conveniently vanished down the rabbit hole.*

* We found the blog post and all comments on the waybackmachine and also saved a local copy, just in case: 130502 Engage for Education Marion Samson

17 June 2013

The Journal Opinion column: Martin Crewe slammed by parents

An opinion piece by Martin Crewe (Barnardo’s and GIRFEC Board Chair)  in the Law Society Journal was quickly trashed by parents and a home ed charity he described as being “misinformed”. Vested interests were publicly questioned, but he failed to engage in discussion..

25 June 2013

“Aileen Also” comments to Scot Parl Ed & Culture Committee

Minister says: “We recognise parents also have a role in making decisions” about raising children.

(11:15) Aileen Campbell: Everything that we do and all our policies are underpinned by GIRFEC—getting it right for every child—and making sure that the child is at the centre of decisions. Of course we recognise that parents also have a role in making decisions. The last time I was a member of the committee, we passed a series of Scottish statutory instruments that were about ensuring that parents have an appropriate role in, and are protected by, the hearings system. As to particular legal advice, I can get back to you about that [but she never did].

28 July 2013

CHYP Bill consultation response by Allan Norman on behalf of Schoolhouse HEA

Many other consultation respondents  pointed out the problems with non-consensual data processing.

“ In both respects, I am reminded of the powerful words of the United Kingdom House of Lords giving judgment in B (a Child), Re [2013] UKSC 33 (12 June 2013)

“In a totalitarian society, uniformity and conformity are valued. Hence the totalitarian state tries to separate the child from her family and mould her to its own design. Families in all their subversive variety are the breeding ground of diversity and individuality. In a free and democratic society we value diversity and individuality. Hence the family is given special protection in all the modern human rights instruments including the European Convention on Human Rights (art 8), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art 23) and throughout the United Nations Convention the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As Justice McReynolds famously said in Pierce v Society of Sisters 268 US 510 (1925), at 535, “The child is not the mere creature of the State”.”

6 August 2013

State snoopers tried to separate devoted mum from her baby

Kayley Hutton told her story to the Sunday Express:

“A Scots mum feared her newborn son was going to be taken away after interfering ‘state guardians’ tried to present her as an unfit parent.”

22 August 2013

FOI request for independent GIRFEC evidence base

Initial response from Scottish Government was recalled due to a header ‘error’ – see comments on WDTK thread.

Requester returned to Scot Govt:

“…this was not the information I requested. I had specifically asked for the raw data and not just the report at the end. Also the 2 people who have written this report were paid over £372,000 by the same scottish government who want to implement GIRFEC into law to write the report and seem to have been champions of it, doing seminars and speeches etc. This is not independent either. Aileen Campbell MSP stated that it was independent research. Research also usually means test situations, control groups, longditudal studies. This states quite clearly at the beginning of the report that implementing GIRFEC was tested alongside other methods. Is there any real research she was refering that you are able to forward to me to or does the Scottish government not have the information requested?”


” the raw data … is not held by the Scottish Government.”

31 August 2013

Critics pan ‘State Guardian’ for every Scots child proposal

Express article on consultation reponses on CHYP Bill.

The Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland have both highlighed serious legal flaws in the proposal for a compulsory state guardian.

However, objections from dozens of other individuals and organisations have now been published, including:

– A campaigner from the Isle of Man, who said a similar scheme introduced by the island’s government led to a 500 per cent increase in referrals to social services.

– The British Association for Adopting and Fostering, whose director Barbara Hudson wrote: “The universality of this provision may get in the way of ensuring that those who really need support actually receive it.”

CARE for Scotland, a Christian charity, which fears that children could be given access to contraception or even abortions against their parents’ wishes.

– The Autism Rights charity, which said the proposal was “as unhealthy as it is impracticable” and promised to “fight this all the way” – raising the prospect of a direct legal challenge.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council, which stated: “We believe the concept of a Named Person for every child is ill thought through and offers no benefit to the majority of children, whose ‘named person’ is already in place – their parent or carer.”

Councils, charities and teaching unions have also voiced serious concerns about the extra workload and responsibility placed on headteachers and health visitors – who will make up the bulk of Named Persons.

Several organisations have pointed out that teachers do not see the hundreds of children in their care over the school holidays, raising the prospect of home monitoring visits.

Perhaps the most damaging comments come from Children 1st, Scotland’s leading children’s charity, which found that youngsters themselves have significant reservations about the proposals.

Along with several other agencies, it also fears that real problems will be obscured by “white noise” as more and more people pass on low-level information to state guardians.

Allan Norman, a solicitor and social work expert acting for the Schoolhouse Home Education Association, predicted the scheme would be against UK, European and international law.*

He said the UK Supreme Court had, as recently as June, expressed its view that the “family is given special protection” under the law and that only the “totalitarian state tries to separate the child from her family and mould her to its own design”.

[* How right he was, down to the case law cited by the Supreme Court]

10 September 2013 (1)

GIRFEC Board meeting

NP in place in Fife, police already sharing information.

See also: GIRFEC Programme Board minutes: highlights and low points


“The National Parent Forum fully supported the principles of GIRFEC. They see their role as disseminating information on GIRFEC to parents and representing their concerns to the Programme Board. Iain Ellis noted that it was hard to find parents who were making negative comments about the Named Person as those heard from pressure groups. [They didn’t look too hard] The NPFS were keen to be more involved with the Board in future to develop these messages.

The NPFS believed that for GIRFEC implementation to succeed and prosper, parents and the wider public needed to be brought on board and that this should be addressed as a matter of urgency. They offered help in achieving this.” [without consulting parents]

HEF comment: As we know, the NPFS, allegedly “set up to give Parent Councils and Parents an opportunity to discuss and raise educational issues of mutual interest or concerns at a national level” is just a government funded mouthpiece to channel propaganda.

“Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill

The main current issues were the Named Person, with concerns expressed in relation to parental rights, privacy and information sharing and resources. The Minister reaffirmed the policy and indicated that a strong narrative was required around the Named Person.

Alan Small presented paper GIRPB/11/04.* Concerns around the information sharing duties in Part 26 and 27 of the Bill had been expressed. He reiterated the following ICO advice:

For the role of the Named Person to be effective, appropriate information sharing was required.

The need to move the threshold beyond child protection to take in concerns of child wellbeing, which should trigger effective and proportionate early intervention.

The ICO statement should be crucial in managing concern and in changing the culture of information exchange.”

“Alan offered an example of good practice on information sharing from Fife**. Fife already had the Named Person in place and the police had been sharing information since April 2013. 400 cases per month had been raised. Teachers stated that they had not seen any increase in their workload and that there had not been any adverse comments from parents.”

 [* See next date entry for redacted paper obtained via FOI]

[** Liam Fee was later murdered in Fife despite this good practice]

10 September 2013 (2)

Information Sharing – Privacy Concerns (Alan Small)

First of the papers referred to in minutes of GIRFEC Board meeting (see previous entry) later obtained via FOI. Purpose: “To update Programme Board members on the handling of recent concerns that the information sharing duties proposed by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, are contrary to the principles of ECHR, Data Protection Act 1998 and the common law duty of confidentiality.”

FOI requester comment:

So they recognised in September 2013 that the issues the Supreme Court would ultimately deem unlawful were a real problem.

The following quote would explain their reluctance to drop Named Persons after the court ruling:

“For GIRFEC to work there needs to be a ‘Named Person’ for every child.”

Some of the report has been redacted, including a statement from the ICO “providing clarity” on information sharing around wellbeing. Why should this have been redacted on the grounds of “prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs”?

Also included are reports on:

  • National 3rd Sector Project (SallyAnn Kelly)
  • Update from Implementation Support Group (Bernadette Malone)
  • Update from the Communications Sub Group (Alan Moffat) – use the given narrative on UNCRC, National Outcomes and GIRFEC principles to provide consistent ‘messaging’, and ‘refrain from using GIRFEC principles as overarching approach’. Busy producing Wellbeing propaganda and inviting nodding dog ‘stakeholders’ to back the policy publicly (e.g. Shelter). Parents can also “use the wellbeing indicators as a checklist for their child’s development if they wish”!

13 September 2013

Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill: Financial Memorandum

Named Person Role

“The majority of the costs in relation to GIRFEC are associated with the proposals to provide a “Named Person” for every child in Scotland from birth until they leave school and, where appropriate, to prepare a Child‟s Plan. In order to deliver the Named Person role, education and health service staff will require training, creating a requirement to backfill staff while this training takes place. There will then be costs associated with delivering the activities associated with the Named Person role.”

The cost estimates were challenged by those charged with implementing the scheme:

“Delivery of the Named Person functions is estimated to result in additional costs to the NHS of £16.3m in the first year of implementation (2016-17), reducing to £10.8m in 2019-20 as the system beds in and the benefits of preventative intervention are realised, leading to a reduction in the level of intervention required in later years. For the NHS, although the costs are expected to reduce after 2016-17, they are not expected to be offset by savings (which differs from the approach taken in the local authority costings). It should also be noted that, if the assumed reduction in hours required is not achieved, the costs will not reduce as anticipated.

The RCN has questioned some of the assumptions underpinning the estimates for the NHS, including the 8 assumed reduction in levels of intervention in later years. (Royal College of Nursing, 2013) NHS Lothian also stated that: “We estimate that the actual cost of the Named Person service is greater than is stated in the FM” and noted that additional recruitment would be required in order to deliver the role as described. NHS Lothian also commented that the assumed hourly rate of £19.04 was too low and £21 per hour would be a more accurate figure (NHS Lothian, 2013). If used, this higher hourly rate would imply a 10% increase in overall costs.”

1 November 2013 

 Fife Children’s Services Information Sharing Protocol, November 2013

Details how Fife would appear to have been acting outwith the law since at least 2013. It details exactly what information should be shared (section 26), the means by which they will collect the information (Section 18) and with whom the information will be shared (section 7).

7 The information sharing partner organisations

7.1 This ISP covers the exchange of information between staff of the following organisations that are engaged in delivering the service outlined in this document:

Information Sharing Partner Organisations                         Responsible Manager

Fife Council, Social Work Service                                         Head of Service

Fife Council, Education Service                                             Head of Service

Fife Council, Housing and Neighbourhood Services             Head of Service

Police Scotland                                                                       Fife Division Data Controller

NHS Fife                                                                                Director of Public Health & Caldicott Guardian

Barnardo’s Scotland                                                               Pending Signature

Fife Voluntary Action                                                            Chief Executive Scottish

Children’s Reporter Administration                                     Locality Reporter Manager

13 Consent

The refusal of consent to allow agencies to share information will be a factor which will feature in the overall assessment of risk for a child. On many occasions this may heighten the assessed risk for a child and further investigation/intervention maybe required.

15 Sharing information without consent

Advice obtained from the ICO in April 2013, supports early intervention and the fact that information should be shared early enough to avoid risk of harm. Harm can manifest in many forms not just physical, the wellbeing indicators provide a way of assessing risks to a child. Therefore as in many cases, a risk to wellbeing can be a strong indication that the child or young person could be at risk of harm if the immediate matter is not addressed. As GIRFEC is about early intervention and prevention it is very likely that information may need to be shared before a situation reaches crisis

18 Information collection

18.1 The approved collection tools for partner organisations to gather the personal information detailed in this ISP are:

Information System

  • SWIFT  (Fife Council, Social Work)
  • E1 (Fife Council, Education Electronic)
  • GENERO (Fife Council , Housing and Neighbourhood Services)
  • Scottish Intelligence Database (Police Scotland)
  • Crime recording System (Police Scotland)
  • Public Protection Unit System  (Police Scotland)
  • Vulnerable Person System (Police Scotland)
  • PNC (Police Scotland)
  • CHS (Police Scotland)
  • Voter’s Role  (Police Scotland)
  • Visor  (Police Scotland)
  • OASIS (NHS Fife)
  • Child Health Surveillance  (NHS Fife)
  • TIARA  (NHS Fife)
  • EOasis  (NHS Fife)
  • Therefore (A & E) (NHS Fife)
  • CHI  (NHS Fife)
  • SCI store (NHS Fife)
  • Badger (e-maternity system) (NHS Fife)
  • Case Management System (SCRA – Voluntary Organisations)
  • Secure email, Partner’s client paper files, Templates / Forms / Letters
  • Telephone / Verbal communication

26 Details of information to be shared


Risk Assessment including:

  • Parental substance misuse
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Parental Mental Health Issues
  • Parental learning difficulties
  • Health screening and health risks
  • Social risks
  • Environmental risks Investigations
  • Registration details
  • Medical examinations
  • Legal measures
  • Financial assessments
  • Housing situation
  • Family circumstances, care and supports / Informal and formal
  • Household circumstances
  • Additional support needs eg: interpreter
  • Social and Emotional Developmental
  • Immunisations
  • Offence related referrals
  • Risks regarding alleged perpetrator of harm
  • Educational needs
  • Advocacy

This will include information on the child who is the subject of the notification, siblings of that child, other children connected to that child and any key and/or significant adults who are involved and/or associated with the child in question. They will also seek information from and any other service and/or agency that may be involved with the child and/or have relevant information relating to that child.

19 November 2013

Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill – Privacy Impact Assessment Report.

Updated PIA Report ( originally published 17 April 2013).

21 November 2013

Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill Stage 1 debate

General principles accepted

27 November 2013

Children of 8 are ‘racist’ if they miss Islam trip: School’s threatening letter to parents is met with outrage (Daily Mail)

  • Headmistress Lynn Small wrote to parents about multicultural school trip
  • Children will attend ‘Explore Islam’ workshop at Staffordshire University
  •  ‘Racial Discrimination’ would appear on permanent record if they didn’t go
  • Parents at Littleton Green Community School in Huntington complained
  • Staffordshire County Council stepped in and head had to apologise

Mothers and fathers were warned: ‘Refusal to allow your child to attend will result in a Racial Discrimination* note being attached to your child’s education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career.

‘All absences on this day will be investigated for their credibility and will only be sanctioned with a GP sick note.’

* Someone should tell teacher that Islam is not a race, but a religion.


29 November 2013 

Maureen Falconer ICO: Scotland – Talking about Information Sharing

Maureen Falconer, Senior Policy Officer at Information Commissioner’s Office – Scotland, spoke at the Getting Our Priorities Right seminar in Perth about information sharing, confidentiality and consent in practice.

Are you okay with your family’s confidential data being easily shared? (NO2NP video)

Maureen Falconer ICO on ‘Getting Our Priorities Right’ in Perth said CHYP Bill is “lowering the trigger” for info sharing without consent down to wellbeing, flying in the face of government assurances that the overarching legal framework governing data protection and privacy rights would be unaffected.

The ICO position had already been fatally undermined by the Haringey judgment of March 2013, which had upheld the established threshold of (likely) risk of signficant harm. 

11 December 2013

Scotland’s prying state  

Archived link

“Perth and Kinross Council has defended its role in what is emerging as a prospective national data trawl, exposing the children of Scotland to intrusive questions about their lives, thoughts and actions.

The council has championed the benefits of a survey known as Evidence2Success (E2S), publishes the results on its website, and has accused the Scottish Review of being ‘disingenuous’ – i.e. dishonest – in its initial coverage a fortnight ago. Yet, as we can disclose through a freedom of information request initiated by one of the objecting parents, the council’s own representative was expressing serious misgivings about the survey questionnaires only weeks before thousands of local school-children – amounting to 90% of the age group concerned – voluntarily completed them.”

[Links to further reading are at the end of the article]


9 January 2014

Wellbeing power cannot be construed as duty to share information

Lawyer Allan Norman dismisses the Local Government Act’s use as a gateway for routine sharing information (Stirling VPD). [The Supreme Court ruling of 28 July 2016 subsequently confirmed the illegality of such information sharing.]

He writes:

There is equivalent legislation in England, in section 2, Local Government Act 2000. And LAs in England have used it to the same effect, to try to argue a power for information sharing. It doesn’t change my opinion in the slightest, my opinion was given in the knowledge of such provisions.

The key to oppose such interpretations of the well-being power is to be found in its limiting provision. In Scotland, this is in section 22:

22 Limits on power under section 20

(1) The power under section 20 above does not enable a local authority to do anything which it is, by virtue of a limiting provision, unable to do.

(2) In subsection (1) above, a “limiting provision” is one which—

(a) prohibits or prevents the local authority from doing anything or limits its powers in that respect; and

(b) is expressed in an enactment (whenever passed or made).

Meanwhile, the Data Protection Act permits information sharing only in specified circumstances – all of which require consent or necessity, and the relevant ones here being:

5 The processing is necessary—

(b) for the exercise of any functions conferred on any person by or under any enactment,

(c) for the exercise of any functions of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department, or

(d) for the exercise of any other functions of a public nature exercised in the public interest by any person.

My view is that frankly it is legal nonsense to suggest that a general well-being power, which makes no reference to information sharing, can be construed as a duty to share information; and since it is a well-being power not a duty, it cannot become ‘necessary’ for the purposes of the Data Protection Act. Moreover, since the power is limited to things it is not otherwise prevented from doing under an enactment, the correct interpretation is that the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act are ‘limiting provisions’.

Of course, the Information Commissioner’s Office has made clear – indeed in the context of child protection – that being able to point to a statutory gateway is not sufficient.  This is both because – as the ICO guidance points out – a statutory gateway may be permissive or mandatory – and also because the existence of a statutory gateway cannot itself make it “necessary” as is required by all of the alternatives to consent within the Data Protection Act itself. (see Protecting Children’s Personal Information: ICO Issues Paper, Information Commissioner’s Office).

10 January 2014

Stirling Vulnerable Children and Young People Project: legality questioned

HEF thread questions legality of Stirling Council’s ‘wellbeing’ powers under LG Act fot the “collection, sharing and use of *personal data on all children* for the Vulnerable Children and Young People Project” as non-compliant with Data Protection Act and Article 8.

22 January 2014

Aidan O’Neill QC legal opinion obtained by Christian Institute

“The blanket nature of this provision constitutes a disproportionate and unjustified interference with the right to respect for individual family’s private and family life and home.”

13 February 2014


Guidance document for Edinburgh and Lothians on information sharing.

Some highlights:

“Good practice is to discuss your concern with the parents/carers and child and tell them why information is being is shared unless it is detrimental to the child’s wellbeing or interferes with a criminal investigation or other judicial process”

“Always share your concern with the child or young person’s Named Person;”

“Confidentiality does not prevent you from sharing a concern about a child or young person’s wellbeing – it actually empowers you to do so”

“There is no need to seek consent in situations where you are likely to share information in any case”

“Consent should only be sought when the individual has a real choice over the whether the information should be shared”

“Legislation does not prevent you from sharing information – it empowers you”

[Except they were wrong, and such practices were not legal on the basis of a ‘wellbeing’ concern below the significant harm threshold]

19 February 2014

A salutary lesson from the Isle of Man as MSPs prepare to abolish every child’s right to privacy

“While these points [about Isle of Man disastrous experience of ECM] will probably make no difference to the outcome of the pretence of a ‘debate’ at Holyrood, we believe they are likely to be as persuasive in a court of law* as they have been in the court of parental opinion.”

[* They were right!] 

19 February 2014

Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill passed

103 MSPs voted for it, with 15 (Tory) abstentions.

25 February 2014

GIRFEC Board meeting

“Update on the Children and Young People Bill

The Minister told the Board a majority had passed the Bill on 19 February, with no ‘No’ votes recorded. The Bill was now due to receive Royal Assent. She mentioned the difficulties encountered at Stages 2 and 3. AS said there had been criticism over the information sharing provisions within the Named Person role, and discussions around concerns about the provision being too wide. This was amended to say that information should be shared if it ought to be shared. It also now stresses the importance of taking account of the children’s views.”

“The Minister said ongoing media coverage on information sharing and the Named Person raised issues of understanding and perception. She thanked all stakeholders again for their support and stressed the need for consistent messaging.”

“BM mentioned how CfE had been supported by a clear and focussed programme of engagement with parents. She suggested a light-touch guidance at establishment level could be developed, and encouraged through messages. She asked the Board if this was a role for the National Implementation Support Group (NISG) or for Education Scotland. AD added that core material was available and that Education Scotland could encourage its use at parent’s evenings through the ADES and NPFS networks. The Minister added there was evidence from enquiries from constituents that clearer messages were needed.”

Risk Register

PD gave a short update to the Board on the Risk Register (GIRPB/12/05). The key updates were that the Bill had been passed, and that Named Person and information-sharing issues were still sensitive, and had been marked as such in the Risk Register. The Register was not for further sharing.”

20 March 2014

Breaking Down Silos to Achieve Strategic Agility

Scotland’s civil service overhaul holds lessons for enhancing national competitiveness

“There are two main obstacles to delivering better public services, according to the architect of a model implemented in Scotland. Sir John Elvidge, Scotland’s Permanent Secretary from 2003 to 2007 identified the country’s focus on incremental change and siloed departments as major hurdles to change.

The story of how Scotland created a suppler and more effective civil service is documented in a new INSEAD case study: Strategic Agility in Nations, The Scottish Example. The civil service went from a siloed structure of departments each focused on its own incremental improvement, to abolishing departments and setting organisation-wide goals, which were measured and assessed according to long-term outcome-based performance indicators in the context of a national framework for development.

How Scotland disrupted its civil service: “Adversity increased our will to take risks”


Tony Blair’s e-government  (data theft / compulsory common purpose) policy has been ‘successfully’ introduced to Scotland by the SNP administration courtesy of Sir John Elvidge (former Blair aide). 

26 March 2014

Campaign against GIRFEC, data theft and a state guardian for every child

Home ed forum thread to keep track of developments following passage of the CHYP Bill

2 April 2014

CHYP Act Privacy Impact Assessment Report Act update

Updated from 19 November 2013 version.

4April 2014

Lecture: Why anonymity fails – Professor Ross Anderson

[vimeo 91204492 w=640 h=360]

10 April 2014

SEEMiS: state surveillance made simple

Critique of use of pupil database to collect and share information without consent.

10 May 2014

National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland updated

“The Scottish Government is working with Community Planning Partnerships to encourage the necessary changes in procedure and process to ensure readiness for the new duties. This guidance references the anticipated new ways of working and procedures which some Community Planning Partnership areas are already implementing.”

Data sharing threshold lowered to wellbeing (despite there being no change to UK-reserved and EU data protection or human rights legislation, with which any such guidance mist comply):

2010 guidance: “The safety, welfare and well-being of a child are of central importance when making decisions to lawfully share information with or about them.”

2014 guidance:”The wellbeing of a child is of central importance when making decisions to lawfully share information with or about them.”

[By this point the ICO memo (not even a legal opinion) had gained universal currency, so that the GIRFEC routine non-consensual data processing (which was struck down by the Supreme Court in July 2016) had infected and taken root across agencies more than two years before Parts 4 and 5 of the CHYP Act were due to come into force in August 2016.]

13 May 2014

GIRFEC Board meeting

“Martin Crewe added that we needed to move from a permissive to directive approach on information sharing.”

“…as there was no national system to implement information sharing, we needed to make sure individual systems were compatible.”

9 June 2014

NO2NP campaign launched in Edinburgh

11  June 2014

Scottish Child Protection Committee Chairs Forum (SCPCCF) meeting

2(d)       The implications for Child Protection Committees of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Mike Mawby and Alan Small from the GIRFEC team at Scottish Government gave a presentation to the Forum. It was noted that they are aiming to issue guidance 12months+ in advance of implementation and Mike discussed the timeline in the lead up to that point.

There was discussion around the named person and lead professional with members of SCPCCF expressing some concern about the roll out and the new route for passing on concerns.  It was felt that this might lead to having to manage delays if concerns have to go first to the named person rather than using a system which currently works well. 

MM highlighted that feedback from Education has been positive and that he is still in discussion with Health.  He wants to encourage cross learning between health boards and local authorities so that they can work together.  He highlighted that some areas are further forward than others and that there is learning from those areas.

1 July 2014

BBC Sunday Politics Scotland: Named Person debate (video)


Gordon Brewer suggests to Aileen Campbell that the named person scheme could be construed as ‘a bit East German’.

9 July 2014

Named Person legal action launched at Court of Session

Christian Institute and others launch judicial review at Court of Session challenging Part 4 of CHYP Act.

9 July 2014

Highland Bill Alexander’s protestations in press as legal challenge launched

Holyrood Magazine

“Alexander has clearly become exasperated with a conversation that he considers riddled with misrepresentation. Not a single parent has complained about having a named person, he says. The Christian Institute has labelled that untrue and said a number of parents supporting their judicial review live in the Highlands. After the negative publicity that accompanied passage of the Bill, however, one parent entered a school to say that they didn’t wish the head teacher to act as a named person.” [our bold]

The Courier: “We have proven named person scheme protects children,” says council chief

“Head of care and learning Bill Alexander said concerns by campaigners who claim it contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights were misguided.” It has been operating in Highland, where it was set, up in 2009.

Mr Alexander said it had proven to work well for children.

“We have fewer children being reported to the Children’s Reporter, we have fewer children on the Child Protection Register, we have fewer children offending. And we had an inspection by the Care Inspectorate in November and December where we got the highest grades out of any local authority in Scotland.”

He added: “I don’t understand why people want to spread misinformation about a system that supports families and reduces the number of vulnerable children and is a Scottish success story.”

[Alexander misrepresented stats which were debunked by social worker Maggie Mellon and others]

10 July 2014

GIRFEC, data mining, consent and the Named Person: who’s misleading whom?

“Mr Alexander’s comments about misinformation fall into the same category as grave-robbing claims by Highland Council that Danielle Reid’s murder and the Herbison Inquiry led to GIRFEC.

But Danielle’s death post-dated the already well advanced plan to implement a scheme of universal citizen surveillance and early intervention dreamt up by Tony Blair. We haven’t heard much about Danielle since.”

6 August 2014

FOI request to Highland Council on complaints

How many of these complaints have been received in relation to the actions of specific Named Persons?  None [that means the complaints copied to charities were either not recorded or binned]

Q3. How many of these complaints have been received in relation to the collection and sharing of children’s and parents’ personal data with or without informed consent? None.

“…the practice guidance does not involve Named Persons routinely seeking access to records held by other agencies. The Named Person may share records (normally the Child’s Plan) with other agencies, but unless there is risk of significant harm, this will be with the consent of the family and (where appropriate) the child”

[This statement is directly contradicted by the practice guidance referred to]

5.1.2 Concerns about other aspects of a child’s well-being (page 38)

When a practitioner who is not the Named Person or Lead Professional has concerns about a child’s well-being which indicate that while the child is not in need of protection he/she may be in need of additional support, these concerns and relevant information should be shared with the child’s Named Person or Lead Professional.

When such a concern comes to the attention of a practitioner they must • Engage with the child and parents to consider the 5 Questions: 1. What is getting in the way of this child’s well-being? 2. Do I have all the information I need to help this child? 3. What can I do now to help this child? 4. What can my agency do to help this child? 5. What additional help, if any, may be needed from other agencies? • Seek consent to share the concern and relevant information with the child’s Named Person or Lead professional.

Where a parent is reluctant to agree, the practitioner will encourage parents to consider the relevance of sharing information. The practitioner will monitor the situation and make a judgement as to whether it becomes necessary to share because the practitioner believes that the Named Person or Lead Professional may need to know about the concern and relevant information in order to improve the child’s wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. In such circumstances*, relevant and proportionate information should be shared.

It is good practice** to inform the child and parents of intended actions, unless this could place the child or others at risk or compromise any investigative enquiry. • Information shared and subsequent actions taken must be recorded in accordance with agency guidance. Following discussion with the Named Person or Lead Professional and where requested, significant information may be recorded on the standard Child Concern Form (appendix iv) which is forwarded to the Named Person or Lead Professional.

*  ‘Improving wellbeing’ does not constitute the protection of vital interests and therefore breaches Article 8 (as ruled by UK Supreme Court, 28 July 2016)

** Informed consent is a legal requirement

20 August 2014

GIRFEC Implementation Board Meeting (minutes obtained via FOI)


Lynn Townsend, Implementation Lead, Scottish Government GIRFEC Team “advised that the guidance for Part 4 of the Act, concerning Gypsy/Traveller communities, has been written and is set to be tested in Fife. A similar process on guidance for the NP service for Home Schooled children had begun and is expected to be trialled with a small number of families.” This again undermines the claim that the NP was not operating in Fife.

Martin Crewe, Barnardo’s Scotland “inquired if rebuttals to the No2NP talking points have been produced, with LT [Lynn Townsend] advising that lines do exist.”  This would seem to show that from early on (2014) all counter arguments to those we were making were originating with the SG and being disseminated through the charities and other bodies.

Alan Small, Scottish Government GIRFEC Team, “provided an update on information sharing advising that the draft model of the minimum data set is being tested in a number of LAs, accompanied by a questionnaire designed to get feedback on the current form. The testing is expected to go on for 2 months and he [Alan Small] hopes to have a response to the feedback provided by the beginning of November… M[artin] C[rewe] mentioned concerns that some have about the NP and their authority/obligation to share information…”

Lesley Mortimer (LM) , SEEMiS “introduced herself and gave an overview of the work that SEEMiS does such as recording attendance, merits and demerits for school children in all 32 LAs. LM posited that it would make a great deal of sense for this information source to be made available to and used by Named Persons.

LM advised that there are a number of other tools that SEEMiS could develop that could prove valuable for the implementation of GIRFEC, such as storage of wellbeing records, a space for teachers/school staff to record date stamped ’post-it’ like comment, software that could be used to automatically add stored data to a Child’s Plan and provide prompts and advise to practitioners. The system is secure so that any personal or sensitive information is protected and can only be accessed by those with permissions…” 

Bernadette Malone, Martin Crewe and Stephen McLaughlin, Improvement Service “each voiced their support for using the services that SEEMiS has created to support implementation of GIRFEC.”

Kay Fowlis, NHS Tayside and Alan Small, Scottish Government GIRFEC Team “both stated their surprise that the NP was more developed than the broader Natioanl Practice Model and Information Sharing. This perhaps indicates the difficulty of reporting on systems change.”

Pauline Davidson, (PD) Team Leader, Scottish Government GIRFEC Team “raised the issue of groups who are actively protesting GIRFEC, particularly the NP provision. PR [Phil Raines, Unit Head, Scottish Government Better Life Chances Unit] interjected that there may be value to having dissenting voices at some larger events, to better represent the full spectrum of thoughts/concerns relating to the GIRFEC provisions of the CYPA. LT [Lynn Townsend, Implementation Lead, Scottish Government GIRFEC Team] and PD agreed, and suggested that it could be beneficial to engage with these organisations on an individual level.”

17 September 2014

Briefing paper on named person for ‘home schooled’ children (obtained via FOI, Jan 2017)

Note the reference to ‘professional backgrounds’. Home education groups were not consulted.

18 September 2014

Independence Referendum: Scotland votes NO

Scotland has voted against becoming an independent country by 55% to 45%.

24 September 2014

GIRFEC Board meeting

See also:

“MG spoke to three aspects of Information Sharing that require consideration:

Policy/Legal, Cultural and Technical.

PD advised that Alan Small is leading on IS work and PR explained that table-top exercises are being organised to practise working through IS issues from start to finish. He sees the three main components as being:

Picking up information – i.e. identifying information relevant to wellbeing

Sending information – transferring data securely to the appropriate people

Receiving information – mechanisms for securely receiving, storing and accessing data

The Minister spoke to the progress being made in Ayrshire, in terms of information sharing systems. PD said that while the approach in Ayrshire through Ayrshare is not suitable for every organisation, it could still prove useful as a learning tool.”

“Implementation Update

Glasgow City is working on Information Sharing processes using the new SEEMIS developments. The GIRFEC SEEMIS project should allow other areas to participate in these developments. ADES will take a leading role in this work.”

[And we all know about SEEMiS]

27 November 2014

Victims of GIRFEC data theft and SHANARRI tick box tyranny

Schoolhouse HEA publishes anonymised case studies.


22 January 2015

Named Person legal challenge dismissed by Outer House of Court of Session

Outer House refuses judicial review petition (Lord Pentland).

See also:

26 January 2015

Alan Small’s presentation on info sharing

[This was removed from the web, but copies were saved by concerned parents]

Where reasonably practicable, obtain and have regard to the views of child taking account of age and maturity – note views of parent or anyone else are not required

Sharing outweighs any likely adverse effect on child’s wellbeing –no requirement to consider effect on parent or other

Duty of confidentiality is not a blockage to sharing

GIRFEC duties – info sharing and duty to help Named Person

Impact is far reaching:

  • Health Services – GPs, dentists, community pharmacists, mental health, addiction, long term conditions, A&E, minor injuries, out of hours, family planning, sexual health, maternity services, ambulance service, health visiting, school nursing, CAMHS, Paediatrics, Neonatology, Community Child Health, Health Promotion, Allied Health Care Professionals……
  • Local Authorities – Education and Learning (inc early childhood education) Housing, Social Services, Leisure Services……
  • Police, Fire Service, Sports Council
  • Any organisation performing a function on behalf of a Health Board or Local Authority

17 February 2015

The Named Person: Surveillance and the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland

Paper by Eric Stoddart, University of St Andrews

25 February 2015

Scottish plans for central identity database spark privacy criticism

Privacy and civil rights campaigners have urged the Scottish government to drop plans for a new identity database which could allow public bodies, including tax authorities, to share every adult’s private data.

Public consultation on the proposal, which has faced intense opposition in the Scottish parliament after the scale and reach of the project came to light, ended on 25 February.

4 March 2015

MSPs debate ‘super ID database’ plans

MSPs have voted for full parliamentary scrutiny of plans to allow more than 100 public bodies to access personal data through an individual’s NHS number.

The proposals would see organisations such as HMRC being able to see certain data on the NHS Central Register (NHSCR).

Opponents said the move amounted to identity cards “by the back door”

 8 March 2015

Groomers’ victims failed by system as Glasgow exposes Rotherham-style gangs

A REPORT into Rotherham-style grooming gangs in Glasgow exposed a catalogue of concerns about police, council and NHS managers.

The 36-page review was presented to the Glasgow City Community Health Partnership (CHP) on December 17, a meeting attended by top health and social workers from across the west of Scotland.

Called ‘The Rotherham Report – Implications for Glasgow’, it revealed that sexual abuse of children by grooming gangs is still being encountered as part of “day to day practice”.
It also detailed a number of serious failings, including:

  • Police Scotland have never viewed meetings to discuss vulnerable young people as a “priority” and do not have enough officers to attend every child protection meeting
  • poor communication between the various departments and agencies, even within the Glasgow Child Protection Committee (CPC) itself
  • senior health board managers and councillors are not always aware of the “scale and the seriousness of the current problems”

In recent years, police have carried out two investigations into grooming gangs in and around Scotland’s largest city, Operation Cotswold and Operation Dash.

The report reveals that “many of the Dash victims” were in the care of their local authority, and that a review of the VYP (Vulnerable Young People) and CP (Child Protection) procedures has been instigated.

“In discussion with police there is an acknowledgement that VYP has never been a priority meeting for the police and they are unclear about its status. The police are indicating that they currently do not have the capacity to attend all CP meeting requests and attendance at VYP would not be possible within the current staffing arrangements.”

11 May 2015

CLAN Childlaw join legal challenge to named person data sharing

‘Named person’ law opponents say it will infringe children’s right to privacy

Clan Childlaw, which promotes the rights of young people, is to join a legal challenge to the legislation which, they say, infringes article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

They fear it could mean children stop using services such as helplines, pregnancy advisory services, legal advice services and mental health charities because of their lack of privacy.

15 May 2015

Nicola Sturgeon on the defensive over data sharing (video)

Nicola Sturgeon responds to news of CLAN Childlaw intervention and concerns about data sharing at FMQs, and deliberately conflates welfare and wellbeing (of which only the former is legally defined with an established trigger – significant harm – for information sharing without consent).

22 May 2015

Up close and personal

Stuart Waiton, TESS.

An irate mother of a 13-year-old in Aberdeen, complains about a nurse- not the usual school nurse- having a ‘little chat’ her daughter.

The questions the girl was asked included, ‘Have you started your menstrual period?’, ‘Do you feel loved and cared for?’ and ‘Do you feel safe and secure in your home?’

The questions continued, probing about the pupil’s relationship with her mother. The child began to feel uncomfortable. When the mother found out, she was ‘absolutely RAGING’.

24 May 2015

The GIRFEC Files (HEF Blog)

“Just recently we have heard the First Minister and other apologists describe GIRFEC and its underlying state dictated ‘wellbeing’ outcomes (which are reliant on universal data stealing and sharing by every ‘service’ provider, not just one named person) as being put in place to protect vulnerable children. We are naturally puzzled by such disingenuous claims, for there is no V (only an E) in GIRFEC.  Indeed, if the experiences of our forum and Facebook group members are anything to go by, the V is far more likely to stand for Violation or Victimisation, of which we have plenty of E for Evidence.”

31 May 2015

Named Persons – Big Brother or a Caring Society?

Prof Bill Buchanan, Napier University

15 June 2015

Highland Practice Model (GIRFEC)

For Highland’s Children GIRFEC Practice Model

(Latest version June 2015)

20 June 2015

Own goal at Hampden for Scottish Government’s Named Persons

£25 gift vouchers offered for attendance at propaganda rally.

More questions than answers for GIRFEC gurus

Parents’ ‘off-message’ feedback:

  • Why plough ahead with NP scheme given the opposition?
  • Why no consultations with parents before now?
  • Why was Highland pathfinder hailed a success when it had clearly not worked for many?

2 July 2015

BBC: Child protection chief quizzed on Named Person

Alan Small, Chair of Fife Child Protection Committee, struggles to answer presenter Kaye Adams’ questions about the Named Person scheme on BBC Radio Scotland – especially incoherent on the meaning of proportionality.

7 July 2015

Named Person in Scotland – One Large Social Experiment?

Prof Bill Buchanan, Napier University

19 July 2015

Police warnings over state guardians

Police Scotland have warned ministers that youngsters are being exposed to “further criminal acts” due to the “significant time delay” created by the extra layers of unwieldly bureacracy.

The force has said that “specific examples can be provided”, suggesting that an unknown number of children have been subjected to physical or sexual abuse or neglect as a direct result of the Named Person legislation.

2 August 2015

Pregnant in Scotland? You can expect more than a baby

HEF thread (includes GIRFEC questionnaire forms):

The following comment was made on the Scottish Govt’s Facebook page as part of the ‘Fairer Scotland’ discussion with the ‘Social Justice’ Minister and provoked comment on one of the home ed Facebook groups.

“Here in the Highlands (just as implied in the infamous Lanarkshire “not for public reading” chart) mothers-to-be (and yes, I have heard this from more than one) have to go through a standard 1½ hour questionnaire (on such things as debt, past abusive relationships, how many bedrooms they’ve got) to see whether they are fit to mother – i.e. a licence to parent. This takes place at a standard midwife appointment with the result that the midwife has no time to ask how the pregnancy is progressing and has to arrange a further appointment for the following week to follow this up. Now you tell us contact with the NP is optional?

3 August 2015

11 Reasons to say NO to the Named Person scheme

7 August 2015

Moray Council gets it wrong – and brags about it

From HEF:

Towards the end of this Northern Scot article, published on 31/7/15 and posted on the NO2NP Facebook page, a senior employee of Moray Council makes some disturbing admissions about the sharing of children’s and families’ personal data and refers to a single electronic record with information from “every organisation involved”, including “NHS, council departments, Police Scotland and tsiMoray“.

This GIRFEC cheerleading council employee describes a system of data gathering and sharing which has already been put in place (without statutory foundation, at least until August 2016 when Part 4 of the CHYP Act is scheduled to come into force, but is still subject to judicial review), thereby appearing to confirm that Moray Council is routinely breaching the Data Protection Act, Article 8 of the ECHR and the common law duty of confidentiality in respect of every child and associated adult. Their employee is even bragging about it in the media!

21 August 2015

Aberdeen City Council: Getting It Wrong again and again and again

A catalogue of publicly reported failures and breaches of data protection legislation by Aberdeen City Council, including a £100,000 penalty for posting sensitive child protection data online and the retrieval of sensitive health data in a Dundee skip.

Aberdeen City Council admits to having followed (since 2013, i.e. more than three years before the relevant parts of the CHYP Act 2014 were due to come into force) guidance on data processing on the basis of a threshold which was subsequently ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in the absece of fully informed freely given consent by data subjects (children, parents and associated adults).

3 September 2015

Controversial named person scheme upheld by the Court of Session

See also:

Inner House appeal failed (Carloway) after being joined by CLAN Childlaw as intevener (also worried by data sharing provisions). Carloway’s claim of “hyperbole” on the part of appellants was an insult to parents and young people already having their information passed around ‘professionals’ without their knowledge or consent and being harassed by Named Persons, despite the provisions not being due to come into force until August 2016.

[Carloway soon gets a promotion]

September 2015

Improving lives in Scotland – a wellbeing approach

Developed from a programme of work supported by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, Scotland’s Futures Forum and partners in 2014, which focused on wellbeing in Scotland. Such an approach takes a balanced look across social, economic and environmental dimensions to understand what influences the wellbeing of citizens and society at large and to assess its progress.

“Scotland is considered to be one of the leading countries in the world in measuring wellbeing*, although there are a number of areas where this could be improved.

[*except it has no definition and is open to wide subjective interpretation; the state’s imposition of its own notion of ‘wellbeing’ and forcing its own preferred national outcomes on citizens is totalitarian]

October 2015

Children’s Rights and Children’s Wellbeing: Equivalent Policy Concepts?

Tisdall, EKM 2015, Journal of Social Policy, vol 44, no. 4, pp. 807-823

Examination of the differences and tension between children’s rights and ‘wellbeing’ with particular reference to the CHYP (Scotland) Act 2014.

“Children’s rights and children’s wellbeing are often casually paired together in both academic literature and policy discussions but they differ conceptually, methodologically and politically. This has become particularly evident in Scotland, where ‘landmark’ children’s legislation in 2014 has set up a clash between statutory requirements for children’s rights and children’s wellbeing.”

“Children’s wellbeing in its maximisation of wellbeing, risks taking the utilitarian approach, as developed by Bentham (1776): ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’. As long as wellbeing is maximised overall, it does not matter if certain children have very poor outcomes. Such an approach emphasises outcomes – whether that be about children for their futures (e.g. school enrolment) or their quality of life now (e.g. appreciation of or learning in school) – but may ignore the importance of the processes to obtain them.

9 October 2015

Hostile and non engaging parents and carers training (Perth & Kinross)

To enable practitioners to recognise hostile, non-engaging and evasive behaviours;
To consider helpful strategies for managing and responding to:

o Ambivalent/ineffective compliance;
o Avoidant/uncooperative behaviour;
o Hostile/threatening behaviour.


[The training, which was to be delivered by a former policeman turned consultant, was cancelled following media interest]

9 October 2015

Kaye Adams show BBC radio, Inverness (extended broadcast)

See also:

“Aileen Campbell’s attempts to defend the scheme highlighted the gap between how it is publicised and how it will actually be implemented. She stated that the Named Person would only intervene where there are child protection concerns. But the legislation assigns a named person to every child to monitor their “wellbeing”.

11 October 2015

Conviction of Elgin ‘Named Person’ and placement on Sex Offenders’ Register

Moray teacher and NP placed on sex offenders’ register, exposes additional risk to children of Scotland’s state guardian scheme.

See also:

15 October 2015

Health Visitor / Named Person lies to parents about the law

Health visitors, school nurses, schools and nurseries are optional, not compulsory, services. Like the named person (allegedly).


 1 November 2015

Bara Judgment: Data Exchange between Administrative Bodies Needs Notice

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that persons whose personal data are subject to transfer and processing between two public administrative bodies must be informed in advance

The CJEU has given judgment in Case C-201/14 Smaranda Bara and Others v Presedintele Casei Nationale de Asigurari de Sanatate and Others. It held that, where personal data is subject to transfer and processing between public administrative bodies, the data subject must be informed in advance.

3 November 2015

South Ayrshire Council Wellbeing Concern Form Guidance V1.3 Nov 15

A clear message to practitioners to collect and share subjective wellbeing concerns at will without the consent of parents or children.

Did you make the parents/carers aware that you would share the concern Note: there is not a requirement to request consent to share information.  If you have a concern it should be shared as appropriate.  You should inform the young person and/or their parent/carers that you are going to share the information with the child/young person’s Named Person
If No, why? Detail the reason that you did not inform the young person and/or their parents/carers that you would share the concern
Comment if you know the views of the child/young person and/or parent/carers about the concern raised Note any views given to you by the child/young person and/or their parent/carers
Any other information that may be of significance Note any other information which you consider to be significant to the child or young person

4 November 2015

Children in Scotland conference: Gamechangers: Transforming our children’s sector

HEF was not impressed: “The SHANARRI worshipping bash of the year was held in Glasgow last week in the form of Children in Scotland’s annual conference 2015 [#CISAC2015] with a traditionally colonic title, Gamechangers: Transforming our children’s sector.”

Maggie Mellon was invited to ‘debate’ the Named Person proposals at this conference, presumably as a token dissenting voice referred to in GIRFEC Board minutes to pretend they were ‘listening’ to concerns.

10 November 2015

Theatre group gets primary kids singing from shanarri song sheet

Hopscotch Theatre Company touring schools with GIRFEC/SHANARRI propaganda and songs – holding a “vigil for every individual” -funded by the taxpayer.

Rights of the child song (video)

[Trigger warning for the easily nauseated]

12 November 2015

Shadow state? Scotland’s IT independence creeps forth (The Register)

National ID and police surveillance plans from our friends in the north

…the SNP-run government is introducing, or at least considering, IT-led projects which some critics see as increasing surveillance, including a data-sharing system covering all children, an upgraded CCTV network run by the police, and a Scottish identity scheme.

The plan which has attracted the strongest opposition is the Named Person scheme, allocating a state-sector professional to every under-18 in Scotland. The scheme, which is already operating in some areas and will cover all of Scotland by August 2016, provides someone who can respond to requests for help from a child, as well as work with those who have concerns for his or her wellbeing.

It has similarities with ContactPoint, a New Labour system that would have kept tabs on all children in England if it hadn’t been abolished along with ID cards by the Tory-LibDem coalition government in 2011.

25 November 2015

Isle of Man Department lacked legal power for pupil database

See also: Child protection: Tynwald Committee seeks first-hand accounts on confidential basis 

Yet more from the Isle of Man, giving voice to the victims of an illegal policy.

1 December 2015

The ‘Named Person’ debate: The case against

Maggie Mellon (Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care)

My four main reasons for opposing the Named Person

  • Firstly, there is no evidence to support introducing Named Persons in legislation.
  • Secondly, the legislation does not say what it claims that it does.
  • Thirdly, this is neither early intervention nor prevention, but it is ‘net widening’
  • The threshold for intervening in children and families’ lives has been lowered significantly from ‘significant harm’ to any concern about wellbeing without justification. The presumption in favour of sharing intimate information on this lower threshold is in itself a big risk to child and family welfare
  • Fourthly, the state makes a lousy parent, and it needs to get its own house in order for the children who are looked after and those who are known to be in need.

2 December 2015

Parliamentary debate on Named Person

(Restricted discussion of data issues due to ongoing legal proceedings)

Stewart Maxwell MSP unable to define wellbeing in parliamentary debate on named person

Stewart Maxwell was unable to define wellbeing when asked by Alex Johnston MSP, whom he accused of making a “ridiculous intervention”.

Maxwell:  Of course, there are no provisions in the 2014 act that would permit a named person to forcibly vaccinate a child; indeed, the named person has no powers to compel parents or children to do anything without their consent.

However, he hadn’t done his background reading…


8 December 2015

Final draft guidance published for Children and Young People Act 

Final Statutory Guidance for Parts 4, 5 and 18 (section 96) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 introduces key elements of the GIRFEC approach and includes an outline of changes to the original consultation version.


NOTE: Following the Supreme Court Decision on 28 July 2016, the Scottish Government amended the above web page to claim that the guidance “remains valid”, but that “some of the information will need to be revised”, namely the information sharing provisions of Part 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 as the ruling “requires these provisions to be amended* in order for them to be compatible with Article 8 of the ECHR”.

“The current draft statutory guidance on sections 23, 26, 27 and 40 should be disregarded for the time being, until it is revised following amendment of the provisions.  Any information shared by and with those identified as Named Persons under GIRFEC policy can and should continue to operate in accordance with the existing legal framework and guidance on data sharing **, human rights and children’s rights.  This includes the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998.  Read the Policy Update on delivery of the Getting it right for every child approach here.”  

* Actually, the legislation needs to be rewritten and approved by parliament as well as being compatible with human rights and data protection laws. 

** Existing guidance is not in accordance with the law as it mandates non-consensual  data processing at a lower threshold (any undefined, vague wellbeing concern) than is legally permissible (likelihood of risk of significant harm).

8 December 2015

Named Person panto in Prestwick

See also:

Prestwick NO2NP Roadshow presentation refutes Scottish Government claims about Named Person scheme and data collection/sharing.

28 December 2015

Taxi drivers recruited under GIRFEC to spy on children

Taxi driver spies in the Borders revelation as Jim Terras (former child protection policeman) was recorded during a third sector GIRFEC training session insisting it was a requirement for every worker to share information on children and adults.

What happens in the taxi doesn’t stay in the taxi’

A child protection training officer has been caught disclosing that taxi drivers are under a legal duty to spy on child passengers and report information to Named Persons.

Speaking during a GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) training day for voluntary sector workers, Scottish Borders Child Protection Committee’s Training and Development Officer Jim Terras stated, “if you’re contracted out for services to the local authority, you will have a duty, a legal duty, to assist the Named Person”.


March 2016

Care Inspectorate: Services for children and young people in Fife

A 37 page report of a joint inspection, in which consent is never mentioned in relation to information gathering and sharing. There had already been several child deaths in Fife, later to be highlighted in a BBC documentary (August 2017).

Information was being shared among all services, including adult services, in an open and trusting way. Staff expressed confidence that information sharing was appropriate and effective. Concerns were shared promptly with relevant staff who could then take early action to support families.

Staff viewed positively the recent improvements to the process for sharing cause for concern reports. School liaison meetings and multi-agency meetings to share concerns about domestic violence were working well. Staff were able to share meaningful information and compile accurate assessments. These meetings had positive engagement by third sector partners. Supports were then able to be targeted towards vulnerable children by those staff that could effectively make an

Key processes for referral to the social work service were working well.  Where a referral had come from the named person, the social worker would, in the majority of cases, attend the wellbeing meeting and a multi-agency response was put in place.

8/9 March 2016

Named person proposal appeal heard at Supreme Court

See also: Transcript of wellbeing trigger questioning by judges

9 March 2016

Aileen Campbell: This legislation lets us do best we can for children

“It is already operating, in some form, successfully in many areas of Scotland. Parenting Across Scotland, Aberlour, Barnardo’s Scotland, Children 1st and One Parent Families Scotland are just some of the organisations who have backed the legislation.Aileen Campbell: “It (NP scheme) is already operating, in some form, successfully in many areas of Scotland. Parenting Across Scotland, Aberlour, Barnardo’s Scotland, Children 1st and One Parent Families Scotland are just some of the organisations who have backed the legislation.”

16 March 2016

SNP hypocrisy over IP Bill

HEF discussion on hypocrisy surrounding SNP stance on Westminister snoopers’ charter : Letter in Herald from Dr Gordon Macdonald of CARE Right to privacy should not be compromised for a utopian ideal and exchange of views with Joanna Cherry MP.

18 March 2016

Transforming Children’s Services conference, Perth  (Dartington)

Dartington Social Research Unit demonstrates its data collection obsession and reports on Evidence2Success data theft via school surveys (forced on captive audiences) which parents had objected to so vehemently that they had to change the name to ChldrenCount. [This is where you should go back to the video at the start of this timeline]

28 March 2016

Not very ‘professional’ for a trainer of Named Persons


30 March 2016

11 charity cheerleaders support named person


2 April 2016

Revealed: what can happen when a Named Person reports on your children

The Named Person scheme is to be rolled out across Scotland in August but one father’s experience of the pilot rings alarm bells for its many opponents

“I felt shocked and vulnerable,” he told Scotland on Sunday. “Then I felt angry and powerless when I saw these notes made of very trivial things and constant surveillance of small things that are part of everyday parenting – a total lack of respect and confidence in the parents. You have no control over this. I maintain that the hearsay put in there is false.

“But they won’t let me correct it. I have provided them with independent accounts that show that some of those statements are false, but they refuse to enter them. So the impression is that they are trying to build a case against me.”

4 April 2016

Nursery World article: Named person for every child policy splits opinion


The information-sharing must take place with the knowledge of the children and families, unless there is a child protection concern. There is no requirement on children and families to accept any help offered, nor have practitioners any legal powers to compel them to do so.* Nevertheless, the scheme has attracted vociferous opposition, with critics viewing it as state intrusion in family life due to its universal nature and lower threshold for intervention.

While the current threshold for intervention is ‘risk of significant harm’, under the Named Person system it will be any concerns about a child’s ‘well-being’ – as defined by the eight indicators that underpin the GIRFEC framework, including Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, namely: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.

Chief among the scheme’s critics is lobbying group No2NP, whose members include the Christian Institute, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and home education organisation Schoolhouse.

*  The legislation does involve compulsion so this is inaccurate.

For supporters of the policy, however, the wide definition of well-being is a bonus. Tam Baillie, children’s commissioner for Scotland, says: ‘The definition of well-being is very broad, so one of the key benefits is that the scheme is designed to help with all types of problems, not just for times where a child or young person is at risk of significant harm. This might include where a child or young person needs more short-term support, such as when they are ill or have had a bereavement.’

While Mr Baillie supports the scheme, he has concerns about information-sharing now that threats to well-being will be the trigger for intervention.

‘One of the potential risks is that the Named Person and other adults may choose to share information about the child that violates their right to privacy,’ says Mr Baillie.

‘We need children and young people to feel comfortable about accessing confidential services without fear that what they tell professionals will not be kept private. What we may find is that they will not look for the help that they need, and that is the opposite to what we want.’

As one of the trial areas, South Ayrshire has been introducing the Named Person policy gradually since 2011, and currently has 90 practitioners acting as Named Persons. Douglas Hutchison, director of educational services at the local authority, says the information-sharing aspect was one of the main challenges in implementing the policy.

‘One of the big challenges is making sure we are able to share the right information with the right people to make sure children are safe and well,’ he says. ‘Any issues about communication have been overcome by working closely with colleagues from different agencies and making sure parents are well informed about what we are doing.’

Responding to a survey carried out by Unison Scotland and published in January, one health visitor commented: ‘My employer is always saying the named person changed nothing, it is just what you are already doing. This in my view is not the case.’

The survey found that 53 per cent of health visitors did not think the introduction of the Children in Scotland Act would be a good thing. One survey respondent said: ‘I think it is strange that a health visitor should be the Named Person once the child is at nursery as the nursery would see the child daily and the health visitor has little input.’

Another added: ‘The amount of information that will be passed to health visitors will be like an avalanche.’



Kirkcaldy West Primary School is a large school with more than 600 pupils, including 126 in its nursery classes. Head teacher Ewan Trousdale has been preparing for the Named Person policy since 2009, when the idea was first being mooted. ‘Fife has been ahead of the game,’ * he says.

The Named Person for children in the nursery is their health visitor.* When they move into Primary 1 aged four or five, this responsibility passes to the deputy in charge of that year, Tracy Westwater, then Geraldine Lawless, deputy in charge of Years 2 to 4, and finally Lesley Rae, who has responsibility for Years 5 to 7.

‘In most primary schools the head teacher will be the named person but in a large school like ours it can be the head or the deputies,’ explains Mr Trousdale. ‘If there is a need for more involvement with other agencies, or children have complex needs which span different departments, the Named Person is there to co-ordinate the work,’ he adds. ‘Our school is in the heart of the town centre, with a very diverse catchment of children, 20 per cent of whom have English as an additional language.’

Ms Westwater works closely with the health visitors who are the Named Persons for the nursery children. ‘If the child has additional needs or needs more support, there will be review meetings with the health visitors, and they will put together an integrated support plan for that child,’ says Mr Trousdale. ‘When the children move from nursery to Primary 1 they will have a Named Person report that looks at the well-being indicators and flags up any points to note as they transition across, and any key information that should be shared.’ Resources such as a checklist and flow chart help the Named Person carry out the correct procedures when they believe a child’s well-being has been compromised.**

Parents have been informed *** about the system through letters and the school website, and from last month new parents registering with the school are informed who their Named Person is straight away. ‘A lot of the good work that was already happening has just continued, it’s just that now it has become a legislative requirement,’ says Mr Trousdale.

*  This was disputed after child deaths in Fife when ministers claimed it hadn’t been operating as the legislation intended.

**  Flowchart and wellbeing checklist the same as in legislation, empowering named person to act without consent or evidence of harm.

***  Parents in Fife say they were never informed and only found out through the media.

10 April 2016

GIRFEC Cluedo upsets happy families, reveals more info sharing encouragement

See also:]

girfec cluedo

Mike Mawby talks about the GIRFEC practice model and is the man behind the Cluedo training exercise for practitioners.

[NOTE: Parents are always guilty]

14 April 2016

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by European Parliament

MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator for the GDPR, said: “The general data protection regulation makes a high, uniform level of data protection throughout the EU a reality. This is a great success for the European Parliament and a fierce European ‘yes’ to strong consumer rights and competition in the digital age. Citizens will be able to decide for themselves which personal information they want to share.”

The Regulation will come into effect in May 2018, superseding national data protection laws such as the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

16 April 2016

Briefing paper on named person for ‘home schooled’ children (obtained via FOI, Jan 2017)

Home education groups had still not been consulted since the original briefing on 17 September 2014.

6 May 2016

Holyrood 2016: SNP claims ‘historic’ win but no majority

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has declared that her party has won a historic third victory in the Holyrood election – but it did not manage an overall majority.

Did Named Person cost SNP their majority?

11 May 2016

Humza Yousaf MSP: Named Person opponents endanger children’s lives (video)

Question Time from Aberdeen

“Humza Yousaf MSP, SNP Minister for Europe, tried to argue that Named Persons would only be able to give advice “when or if the parent needs it”, a claim previously expressed by the First Minister.

Yousaf claimed: “Some of the hyperbole around this, some of the misconceptions around this, are not only vacuous, but frankly put children’s lives in danger”.

[Conflating child protection with promoting wellbeing again – a dangerous confusion]

29 May 2016

Charities face challenge on state guardians

Sunday Times

Children’s charities in Scotland that support the SNP’s “state guardian” policy have been accused of “bias” over their financial links to the Scottish government.

Nine charities, including Barnardo’s Scotland, Children in Scotland and the NSPCC Scotland, signed an open letter last March defending the SNP’s desire to assign a named person to every child under 18.

Opponents of the scheme claim the support of such influential charities should be “treated with caution” as all of them stand to receive a share of more than £2m in government funding in the current financial year.

31 May 2016

Liam Fee murder verdict

“A senior Fife social worker admitted to the court that at one point Liam “fell off their radar”.”

1 June 2016

The Named Person: parent licensing by the back door

Scottish Review

“If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the Scottish Government’s named person scheme, due to be steamrollered out in August, is set to add a whole new layer of tarmac to the national re-surfacing project known as GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child).”

1 June 2016

Kenneth Roy special report on Liam Fee and NP

 Liam Fee, the Scottish Government, and an incriminating document

A revealing interview with the man in charge of the Liam Fee inquiry

5 June 2016

Liam Fee tragedy had moved ‘beyond Named Person stage’

Car crash interview by Tam Baillie SCCYP on Liam Fee systematic abuse and murder.

The Children’s Commissioner says murdered toddler Liam Fee was in the child protection system way beyond the “early intervention” measures intended by the Named Person policy.”

7 June 2016

Vulnerable children need named person

Third Force News opinion piece misrepresents the legislation and draws comment from parent Catriona Macleod:

“Dear Calum, My child with additional support needs was ostracised and bullied by the adults who should have protected her in Highland Council and Health services. The named person met with others, shared sensitive information and made detrimental decisions which have excluded her from education and made her ill. Consent to this was never sought and complaints have not been answered. Am more than happy to discuss this with you. Ironically it took other SW and education staff to help us get out of this mess! What a waste of time and resources and a lot of damage to a child’s life.”

8 June 2016

Education (Named Person policy) Debate – Scottish Parliament

Deputy FM John Swinney lambasts a fellow MSP for “misrepresenting legislation” when he is reading directly from the CHYP Act. Labour MSP Jenny Marra bravely breaks ranks to vote for the Tory motion.

An embarrassing Punch and Judy show and a new low in Scottish politics.

14 June 2016

Duties and functions (inc info sharing) of named person in Fife (obtained via FOI)

Comment from requester

“This response is to my request for a review on the FOI request for details of the duties and functions (including information sharing) of the Named Person role that Fife Council has been running prior to the issuing of the statutory guidance.

The response states: There are no specific job descriptions, functions, duties, training or guidance in a recorded format specifically for Named Persons. Although the terms Named Person and Lead Professional have been used to describe the person who is the key worker under the GIRFEC guidance from 2007 this is not the role as described in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.’

There must surely, in light of this information, be some consequences for MSPs who stood up in Parliament and stated that Fife, as well as the other four early implementation areas, were piloting the Named Person successfully without any qualification as to the difference between the named person under the pilot schemes and that being worked in to legislation.

The trials were a sham and were misrepresented to Parliament in order to push through the Named Person legislation.”

28 June 2016

S Ayrshire Guidance Notes for Child’s Assessment and Plan (obtained via FOI)

Comment by requester:

Being a Named Person is just doing what teachers and health visitors already do – the attached 15 page Child’s Assessment would beg to differ. It comes with a 25 Page guidance document also attached which gives interesting detail on what information is being collected.

“Section 11 Child Affected By” is interesting in that the first factor that may affect the child is “non-engaging families”

The guidance document shows that the amount of information required, and the issues that have to be considered are quite staggering – for example, here is one page of a section which analyses the parent/carer’s ability to meet the needs of the child:

Guidance, supporting me to make the right choices Values, guidance and boundaries.  Making clear to the child/young person what is expected and why.  Are household roles and rules of behaviour appropriate to the age and understanding of the child/young person?  Are sanctions constructive and consistent?  Are responses to behaviour appropriate, modelling behaviour that represents autonomous, responsible adult expectations.  Is the child/young person treated with consideration respect, encouraged to take social responsibility within a safe and protective environment? You should consider:

·         The boundaries and guidance offered to the child

·         The level of consistency in parental approach to discipline and guidance

·         Child’s ability to demonstrate an awareness of the needs of others

·         Child’s behaviour – including whether the child is aggressive or violent and if so the context, frequency and triggers for this

·         The child’s exposure to violence in the home

·         Any occasions the child has run away from home

Knowing what is going to happen and when Is the child’s/young person’s life stable and predictable?  Are routines and expectations appropriate and helpful to age and stage of development?  Are the child’s/young person’s needs given priority within an environment that expects mutual consideration.  Who are the family members and others important to the child/young person?  Can the people who look after her or him be relied on to be open and honest about family and household relationships, about wider influences, needs, decisions and to involve the child/young person in matters which affect him or her.  Transition issues must be fully explored for the child or young person during times of change.


You should consider:

·         Information around where the child has lived, who was part of the household who provided primary care to the child

·         Reasons for significant changes

·         If the child is separated from a parent, the level of contact and any attendant issues

Understanding my family’s background and beliefs Family and cultural history; issues of spirituality and faith.  Does the child/young person have a good understanding of their own background – their family and extended family relationships and their origins.  Is their cultural heritage given due prominence?  Do those around the child/young person respect and value diversity?


You should consider:

·         Child’s awareness of the family history

·         The way secrets are dealt with in the family

·         Child’s relationship with siblings

·         Levels of affection and hostility

·         Child’s status in relation to other siblings (i.e. scapegoat, favoured, bullied)

·         Strengths of the family

·         Physical or intellectual disability

·         History of mental ill health

·         History of alcohol substance misuse

·         History of parental abuse/neglect as a child

·         How the family copes under stress

·         Conflicts within relationships/stability

·         Communication within the family

·         Histroy of separations

June 2016

GIRFEC in Ayrshire Child’s Pathway Guidance (Draft)

A pathway for ‘our’ children had been drafted prior to the Supreme Court ruling and remains online (March 2017). Of particular interest are pages 19-21 on circumstances where parents and young people choose not to engage with a named person. Information sharing without consent is clearly mandated.

“The Named Person service provider is required to inform the child or young person and parent about how to contact the Named Person, and when the Named Person service provider changes the outgoing Named Person’s organisation must inform the incoming Named Person service provider of the name and address of the child or young person and each parent.

The Act also states that after specific considerations, detailed in the Act and guidance, the outgoing Named Person service provider is required to share relevant information with the incoming Named Person service provider in relation to the child’s or young person’s wellbeing. These considerations include seeking and taking into account the views of the child or young person, so far as reasonably practicable, on what information may be shared.

In practice this would normally include seeking the views of the parent(s). Where a parent has told the Named Person service provider that they do not wish to be contacted then the Named Person service provider will have to decide whether in considering the child’s or young person’s wellbeing, they should still make contact with that parent. However, even in these circumstances the duty to seek and take account of the views of the child or young person if it is reasonably practicable to do so, remains.”

June 2016

State Guardian or Head Gardener? The imposition of state guardianship by the Scottish Government 

A Discussion Paper from the Centre for Welfare Reform by Robin Jackson. Foreword by Dame Anne Begg.

Will it “Get It Right For Every Child” as its proponents claim or will it be a bureaucratic nightmare and unwelcome intrusion into family life as its opponents fear?

6 July 2016

Raging Bull Swinney  (Scottish Review)

John Swinney is not for turning as he promotes data grabbing and sends mixed messages over purposes of Named Person scheme.

“Putting data collection before child protection”

20 July 2016

Minutes from NISG meetings between Feb 13 and Jul 16 released by FOI on appeal

NISG Minutes July 2016:

“Phil Raines updated on the Judicial Review including paper 16(11). On the day of the meeting we were still awaiting the outcome of the judgement. The group was asked, should there be no judgement before the Supreme Court recess, for their views on the proposal that any changes to the commencement data are not taken until the last possible date for action in Parliament, i.e. the week beginning the 24 August; and the approach to contact Named Person service providers and key stakeholders.

Members identified, within the context of scrutiny, three main risks.

1)      Cascade effect – members felt one week’s notice of postponement or changes to implementation was not long enough for information to be crafted, disseminated, digested and effectively implemented by practitioners, once months’ notice was preferable.

2)      Public pressure for clarity –e.g. parents and teachers upon school return mid-August.

3)      Professional groups – risk of losing support of groups if communication is not out early.

Members also expressed that any messaging from SG on postponement should emphasise,

1)      The importance of communicating total commitment to implementation

2)      Named Person service providers should continue to build on progress to date.”

27 July 2016

Angus Council training video for Named Persons

Awkward training video from Angus Council demonstrates how the Named Person marginalises families. Truly cringeworthy

28 July 2016

Supreme Court judgment issued

Victory for appellants and NO2NP campaign. Ruling maintained data processing threshold as significant harm. Promoting wellbeing is not protecting vital interests and so cannot override Article 8. Named Person neutered as info sharing (which is central to role) is not in accordance with the law. Parents do not have to engage and must not suffer detriment for declining advice or services.

28 July 2016

Scottish Government enters denial mode following damning judgment

Bizarre response from Scot Gov and GIRFEC cheerleaders after named person relegated to the single point of contact that was never contended. Info sharing powers and lowering of threshold were unlawful breach of rights.

29 July 2016

‘Highland’ Bill Alexander repeats government spin on BBC Radio

Bill Alexander of Highland Council claims victory on BBC Radio, failing to understand the difference between a supposedly benevolent aim (never contested in court) and the totalitarian measures put in place by the government and legislated for by parliament (without proper scrutiny) to achieve the alleged aim. Alexander was given disproportionate air time to misrepresent the Highland non-statutory scheme as a success when statistics do not support his claims.

30 July 2016

Parents to  seek compensation over named person legislation

Parents are seeking legal advice to get compensation for Named Person intrusion into their family lives after the UK’s Supreme Court ruled the Scottish Government’s controversial scheme was unlawful. Opponents claim people in areas of Scotland where the scheme is already running have contacted them and are considering legal action following the judgment.

30 July 2016

The ‘Named Persons’ Scheme – When Protecting Wellbeing Is Totalitarian

Allan Norman’s take on the judgment (must read!)

“While pretty much every legally-qualified response to the proposed scheme expressed concerns (e.g. CLAN Childlaw (which became an intervener), Faculty of AdvocatesGovan Law Centre,  Law Society of ScotlandKenneth Norrie, Professor of Law, Strathclyde UniversityScottish Child Law Centre – each of whom referenced Article 8 specifically), the legislation was nonetheless passed, and legal challenges to the scheme failed in the Scottish Outer and Inner Courts of Session.

When you have begun believing you are simply applying well-established principles, three years of people taking a contrary view is a long time to wait. Given the go-aheads that the scheme received, I had begun to be concerned that the judgment of the Supreme Court might represent a reconfiguring of the relationship between the individual and the state.”

1 August 2016

NHS Grampian information issued to all staff

(forwarded by a recipient)

The Supreme Court’s ruling requires changes to be made to the information sharing provisions of the 2014 Act, which have not yet commenced. The judgment does not relate to current practice in relation to information sharing. Clearly public authorities must comply with the requirements of relevant legislation, such as the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act, when providing services to children and families.

There will be no change to current practice within NHS Grampian* and we are presently assessing what this judgement means for NHS Grampian staff and awaiting further guidance from the Scottish Government who have 42 days to make necessary changes to information sharing.

* Not a sensible approach given the current information sharing protocols which refer to the now infamous ICO 2013 memo.

2 August 2016

Maggie Mellon: How the Named Person crusade could damage the case for Scottish independence

Why has the Scottish Government allowed itself to be undone by a scheme with an Orwellian name which it never able to explain without contradicting themselves?” “One day, the message was that Named Persons were a voluntary service that parents had asked for, and the next it was necessary to impose Named Persons on all children in order to protect the most vulnerable and prevent child deaths. Families with nothing to hide had nothing to fear.

One day the scheme had been successfully piloted in Fife and in Highland it was flawless. The next, in response to the deaths of children in those very authorities, we were told that the Named Person scheme was not responsible for protecting children, just the promotion of low level wellbeing.”

We were also told that the ‘successful’ pilots had not in fact been pilots at all, as the law was not implemented yet.

3 August 2016

SCCYP admits to getting it wrong.

Tam Baillie issues a correction and apology, while the government continues to spin.

3 August 2016

Allan Norman: Named Person explained – for those who are not wilfully blind

“It is the aim that is benign, not the scheme that has been legislated. The children and young persons’ commissioner for Scotland has realised the significance of the distinction between the two things, and apologised.

Mark-up of judgment:

4 August 2016

ICO internal emails reveal disappointment at judgment (obtained via FOI)

A senior Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) official admitted to a colleague in Scotland she hadn’t “the foggiest” what the historic court judgment was about.

The official, employed in the Cheshire headquarters of the ICO, went on to say that she didn’t have the “time or inclination” to read the decision of the UK Supreme Court, despite it being the biggest ruling affecting the ICO’s work since the Prince Charles letters case.

In response, her colleague David Freeland, a Senior Policy Officer at the ICO’s Edinburgh office emailed back saying: “I don’t particularly blame you”.

He also disclosed that the ICO was aware they could get complaints about information breaches following the ruling.

He wrote, “we may get complaints that non-statutory pilot schemes were either sharing personal information unlawfully by lacking sufficient conditions for processing, or disproportionately”.

In 2014, Mr Freeland controversially told a seminar on information sharing not to offer parents the chance to object to the sharing of private information on them and their children: “Consent is not the be-all and end-all”, he said, lamenting that “Consent can be difficult and it should only be sought when the individual has real choice over the matter”.

The internal emails, revealed in a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request, also disclosed concerning comments from the head of the ICO in Scotland, Ken Macdonald, who expressed his “disappointment” after judges struck down the Named Person scheme’s intrusive information sharing provisions. The ICO is responsible for protecting the privacy of citizens and upholding the Data Protection Act – the very law the Supreme Court said was breached by the Named Person provisions.

[The ICO is supposed to be an independent regulator – who would have guessed?]

7 August 2016

New Zealand abandoned Girfec-like scheme after branding it ‘useless’

Sunday Express

New Zealand was forced to abandon a project similar to Scotland’s Getting It Right For Every Child (Girfec) scheme after it was condemned “useless” in a scientific study.

The country’s Ministry for Social Development abandoned a pilot to trial the model, created using multi-agency shared data based on 132 variables from socio-economic status to the background of the carers, amid concerns the method was ethically questionable and breached privacy.

Even UNICEF expressed concerns over the plans to rate every newborn child with a risk score to predict future abuse for officials to keep an eye on.

8 August 2016

SPICE briefing issued to MSPs

Accuracy later challenged (see 14 August)


Because Part 4 has not been brought into force, the Supreme Court ruling does not apply to the existing, non-statutory, Named Person schemes. These operate under existing information sharing powers. As has always been the case, any information sharing under these current non-statutory schemes must be done within the framework of data protection and human rights legislation. In a letter to the Education and Skills Committee, John Swinney said that it was necessary to continue current practice and share information in accordance with the relevant current legislation. “It is important that public authorities continue to share information appropriately and in accordance with the requirements of the legislation such as the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act, when providing services to children and families. Officials are working with the Information Commissioner’s Office provide further guidance on current practice in relation to sharing information.” (Swinney, 2016)

9 August 2016

SEEMiS confirms addition of ‘wellbeing’ data to pupil database (via FOI)

Info provded by SEEMiS: “We can confirm that the Wellbeing Application is nearing readiness and will be launched in the coming weeks.

As with all such developments, as we work towards finalising the product we are taking into account all relevant factors including, in this case, the recent Supreme Court decision.”

Requester comment: So they are going ahead with the launch of the wellbeing app which has been developed solely to support the named person and named person duties despite the fact that the named person has been paused.

11 August 2016

Scottish Government meeting – information sharing provisions in CHYP Act

Released later via FOI after review.

“ICO felt the judgment suggests that the phrasing of the information sharing sections of the Act 2014 needs to be amended. It would be worth looking at the last section of the Supreme Court press release, referring to fair processing and the definition of threshold.” [emphasis added]

Requester comment: “Might be a better idea to actually read the whole judgment and make decisions based on that; then they might understand that the judgement did not “suggest” anything of the sort.”

Also from minutes: “Discussion of whether the consent of the child would be in the legislation or in the code, and whether this should be turned around and instead when one would not look for consent.”

13 August 2016

Children’s Social Services – Will we ever get it right?  (video presentation by Allan Norman)

“Allan Norman (who more or less predicted the Supreme Court ‘named person’ judgment in a submission to the Scottish Government for Schoolhouse in 2013) speaking in the Isle of Man.”

14 August 2016

Moray going ahead with NP scheme

Family exposes current unlawful data sharing practices in Moray.

17 August 2016

SPICE briefing (issued to MSPs on 8 August) challenged for wrongly claiming ruling not applicable to non-statutory NP schemes

Complainant wrote:

It is wrong to say that the Supreme Court ruling ‘does not apply’ to the non statutory scheme. The ruling was in relation to unlawful sharing of information in breach of ECHR and data protection law. It ruled Part 4 of the CYP Act, and the accompanying Scottish Government guidance, to be unlawful. This necessarily means that any practices which breach the ruling are unlawful.

It is not in any doubt that current guidance and practice is in breach – in this guidance one can find many examples of encouragement to share information on the basis of wellbeing concerns, with or without consent, and therefore the ruling quite definitely applies to these practices.

The Supreme Court ruling also criticised the lack of definition of wellbeing and of the SHANARRI indicators. The court’s judgment included a warning that consent outwith existing legal rights to share information (on the basis of evidence of significance harm) should not be gained through duress or threat of further consequences.

You may have been advised that the current operation does not breach the ruling because Part 4 is not yet formally implemented, but any practice that anticipated implementation is unlawful and the ruling does apply.

In short, it is wrong that the briefing offers such an explicit assurance that the Supreme Court ruling ‘does not apply’  to the current non statutory operation of the Named Person scheme. The ruling most certainly does apply to any policy or practice such as that ruled against by the Supreme Court.

24 August 2016

Revocation orders laid before parliament to prevent legislation coming into force

 4 September 2016

Mother’s fury as her private chat is shared under hated Named Person scheme

A mother has spoken of her distress after finding that her family’s confidential information had been shared without consent as part of an early roll-out of the hated Named Person scheme.

Longer version:

8 September 2016

John Swinney statement promises intensive consultation

Deputy FM John Swinney issues statement promising intensive consultation on CHYP Act provisions following Supreme Court ruling. Claims current information governance is in accordance with the law.

8 September 2016

Bill Alexander takes to airwaves to claim current practice is not affected

The presenter asked: “You’ve been running a similar scheme in the Highlands for some time, John Swinney referred to it today; have you had to make changes since the Supreme Court ruling?”

Bill replied: “The Supreme Court ruling talked about the information sharing provision in the Children & Young People’s Act, that has not yet been commenced. The Supreme Court ruling was not critical of current practice and indeed as you have already said the Supreme Court ruling said that not only was the aims of the Named Person service legitimate and benign, but it was an entirely reasonable measure  to support early intervention to support children and families. So that’s a process that’s already in place across most of Scotland … “


“Where a parent is reluctant to agree, the practitioner will encourage parents to consider the relevance of sharing information. The practitioner will monitor the situation and make a judgement as to whether it becomes necessary to share because the practitioner believes that the Named Person or Lead Professional may need to know about the concern and relevant information in order to improve the child’s wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. In such circumstances, relevant and proportionate information should be shared. It is good practice to inform the child and parents of intended actions, unless this could place the child or others at risk or compromise any investigative enquiry.” (p38 5.1.2 Highland Practice Model)

9 September 2016

Bill Alexander challenged on Highland Practice Model

Open letter:

Last night on BBC2 Scotland you stated that the Highland NP scheme did not need to be changed as a result of the Supreme Court judgement. You stated that the judgement does not apply to current practice, and that therefore any pre-implementation practice in Highland is not open to challenge on the basis of the ruling. I  found the following guidance on sharing  information without consent on the basis of concerns merely ‘in order to improve the child’s wellbeing or the wellbeing of others.’.

The section in the guidance is in Section 5 Information Sharing and states:

“Where a parent is reluctant to agree, the practitioner will encourage parents to consider the relevance of sharing information. The practitioner will monitor the situation and make a judgement as to whether it becomes necessary to share because the practitioner believes that the Named Person or Lead Professional may need to know about the concern and relevant information in order to improve the child’s wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. In such circumstances, relevant and proportionate information should be shared. It is good practice to inform the child and parents of intended actions, unless this could place the child or others at risk or compromise any investigative enquiry.” (p38 5.1.2 GIRFEC Highland Practice Model, May 2015)

This is clearly non-consensual information sharing  ruled illegal by the Supreme Court  which has to be changed. It seems clear that last night in your television appearance you misled the public about the current nature of the operation of the scheme in Highland.

John Swinney, speaking for the Scottish Government in Parliament yesterday seemed to believe that current schemes are and have not been operating on an unlawful basis and I am therefore copying in the Director for children and families Olivia McLeod so that she is fully aware that the Highland NP scheme has been operating for some years on the basis of the flawed legislation and associated government guidance.  The DPM has written to all councils asking them to ensure that their operation of Named Persons does not breach the DPA or the ECHR.

I hope that you will correct the guidance, and also offer a retraction of your statement last night.

[The hope was, as expected, in vain]

15 September 2016

ICO issues updated advice

The Information Commissioner issues updated advice in response to the court ruling, but fails to formally withdraw his legally inaccurate 2013 letter still being relied upon by public and third sector bodies across Scotland.

See also named-person-letter-20160914

19 September 2016

Parents want the named person to share information

One of the most persistent fantasies that “parents asked for it” is exposed as Calum Munro (GIRFEC vested interest) admits a single point of contact was asked for by parents whose children had additional support needs. He doesn’t specify how many parents or how they were selected to represent the entire parent population of Scotland in the matter of imposing a named person on every child, including those without additional needs and whose parents did not ask for, or want, the ‘services’ of such a third party who could access and share their family members’ personal data without their fully informed consent.

Calum confesses:

“… single point of contact with services was asked for by parents and carers of children and young people with additional support.” 

“Their testimony of this experience led to the concept of a single point of initial contact for any family or young person who sought help.* The person acting as the single point of contact would be required to take down the story once in a multi-agency acceptable format so that the family or young person was not required to repeat the basics time and time again.”

* Any child, not every child? Voluntary or compulsory?

19 September 2016

Enter IBM’s ‘Single view of the citizen’ capabilities

Helping case workers optimize the delivery of social services (regardless of ‘client’s’ wishes), IBM’s single view of the citizen facilitates (and/or enforces) state outcomes.

IBM has an interesting history: The Nazi Party: IBM & “Death’s Calculator” (Edwin Black)

26 September 2016

Third sector engagement meeting

Those with opposing views not invited.

13 October 2016

Health board scraps leaflet after Named Persons ruling

Leaflet withdrawn by NHS Tayside and an information governance review initiated because parents were being handed an inaccurate leaflet at Accident and Emergency departments in the area, which said:

“When you attend this department your own details or those of your child may be disclosed to other professionals, for example, School Nurse, Health Visitor, Social Work and GP. This follows the guidance from the Scottish Government.”

14 October 2016

Swinney snubs concerned parents and constituents

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has been accused of ignoring an army of concerned parents over the Scottish Government’s under-siege Named Person scheme.

Large numbers of parents have contacted Mr Swinney in his capacity as education minister, urging him to hold public meetings where he can be quizzed over the future of the state snooper proposals Supreme Court judges declared illegal earlier this year.

Mr Swinney pledged to enter into a three-month period of “intense engagement” – including parents and those with ‘concerns’ – as part of a consultation process designed to come up with alternative proposals which might meet the approval of the court.

But he ruled out meeting with No to Named Persons (NO2NP) whose members warned more than two years ago of the problems with the scheme and brought the legal action which resulted in the Named Person law being declared illegal.

It has now emerged that Mr Swinney has even failed to respond to parents seeking to become involved in the consultation process.

21 October 2016

ICO orders removal of outdated advice from Scot Govt website  

ICO orders removal of outdated advice from Scot Govt website, following pressure from NO2NP lawyers.

28 October 2016

NO2NP wins Herald’s ‘Public Campaigner of the Year’ Award (video clip)

See also:

NO2NP has won the award for “Public Campaigner of the Year” at The Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2016..

The category is described as: “A public award to recognise an individual or group that has best engaged with the political system to change legislation.

Head of media for the Scottish Green Party, Jason Rose (who is also the chair of a primary school council), tweets that he is sickened by the result, while with his party colleague makes defamatory comments about the NO2NP campaign, citing lack of evidence (a bizarre contention, given the stunning Supreme Court victory by NO2NP and the awarding of their costs against the Scottish Government that confirmed it). Sour grapes or something more sinister?

30 October 2016

Highland named person success claims debunked

See also:

Mr Swinney’s stats did not paint the whole picture.

What he didn’t tell you was that in the same time period there was a drop in referrals across Scotland. In fact many local authorities which did not have a Named Person pilot scheme saw an even higher percentage drop in referrals.

There is no evidence to suggest a link to the Named Person pilot scheme.

31 October 2016

Statement of intent to carry on regardless

“The Supreme Court judgment itself does not require current policy to change. The judgment relates only to the information sharing provisions that were intended to come into force under the Act, not to current practice under GIRFEC policy.”

The inference is that current practice is lawful, when we know it certainly isn’t – and hasn’t been for three and a half years…

2 November 2016

CLAN Childlaw  “Information Sharing Provisions – the way forward” (02 Nov 16)

“Parents should be made aware that information is being gathered against the well-being indicators to make sure the child’s wellbeing will develop.” No mention of consent for the data processing.  And the public health nurse “will be responsible for the child’s well-being until they reach the age of five.”


CLAN seem to be condoning a wellbeing enforcement scheme founded on data theft. That is not supportive of children’s rights.

CLAN also alluded to their Supreme Court intervention at a recent roundtable event, claiming disproportionate credit (it was felt by some) and underplaying the fact that parents appeared prominently in the judgment with equal protection of their Article 8 rights.

CLAN et al should be reminded that the regulated activity under the Data Protection Act is data processing (which includes gathering, recording, accessing and deletion as well as sharing), so all the info gathering that is going on using SHANARRI indicators to determine wellbeing (that has no definition) is essentially going to be unlawful in the absence of informed consent. It’s not just children and young people who will not engage with services, but anybody in their right mind!

It is a breach of the law if third party data is routinely being collected (on parents, siblings, other family members and associated individuals) without their informed consent or even knowledge. They may not know their info has been disclosed to a teacher or named person and cases have been reported whereby cavalier disclosure has resulted in idle gossip, in small communities in particular.

Their citing of the ‘successful’ Highland evaluation is also unsound and open to challenge, due to the misrepresentation of stats, not to mention the illegal use of personal data. Agencies’ past and current practice is not in accordance with the law, as informed consent has not been obtained from children, their parents or third parties whose data has been collected.

Allan Norman’s Isle of Man presentation provided clarification, but he has also elaborated elsewhere about data processing as the regulated activity, not just the sharing of personal information. Wellbeing triangles and recording of wellbeing assessments on the pupil database, for example, would constitute processing, and consent should therefore be mandatory since it is beyond the necessary record of name address and attendance that would be expected by parents/children as service users.

Any data processing that requires consent (and that is everything below the threshold) means that consent can also be refused; moreover, there can be no repercussions for that refusal according to the Supreme Court.

9 November 2016

P&K Council website retains outdated ICO advice

A complainant wrote

“The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for Scotland has taken the “unusual step” of asking the Scottish Government to remove its Letter of Advice of March 2013 from its website. This letter gave advice around the sharing of information “between services in respect of children and young people.”

On the Perth & Kinross website there is a page titled “Practitioner’s Guide and Toolkit – Information Sharing, Confidentiality and Consent.”

The 2013 letter from the ICO is posted on this page and appears in several of the documents listed here as well.

Given the actions of the ICO in asking the Scottish Government to withdraw this particular letter of advice from its webpage in light of the ruling from the UK Supreme Court on the Named Person legislation, will Perth & Kinross Council also withdraw the ICO’s 2013 letter from its webpage?

Will Perth & Kinross Council also revise its guidance for practitioners on information sharing and any related documents to reflect the withdrawal of this letter of advice?”

Their astonishing response: “It is our view that the original advice letter of 2013 remains valid …”

13 November 2016

Scottish government ordered to pay appellants’ legal costs in Named Persons case

The Scottish government may be required to pay out an estimated £500,000 over its “Named Person” scheme after judges in the UK Supreme Court ordered it to pay the legal bills incurred by those who brought the case.

Their costs are estimated to top £250,000 and the Scottish government’s bills could possibly bringing the total cost to the taxpayer to around £500,000.

14 November 2016

Swinney snubs concerned parents and constituents

Large numbers of parents have contacted Mr Swinney in his capacity as education minister, urging him to hold public meetings where he can be quizzed over the future of the state snooper proposals that Supreme Court judges declared illegal earlier this year.

It has emerged that Mr Swinney has even failed to respond to parents seeking to become involved in the consultation process.

15/16 November 2016

CYPIC Learning Session 2016 – Highlights Video

Teachers “actively engaged with data” to drive forward improvements.

See: Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative

1 December 2016

Third Sector engagement meeting- NO2NP snubbed

Only those who agreed with Named Person scheme were invited.

John Swinney put a ban on NO2NP’s campaign spokesman Simon Calvert from attending a meeting of third sector groups to discuss the future of the Named Person scheme.

The talks were part of an “engagement process” session in Edinburgh on 1 December, to discuss possible ways of changing the scheme following the Supreme Court defeat.

List of invitees later obtained by FOI

Organisations invited to the GIRFEC Third Sector Event – Victoria Quay, 1 December 2016

Children’s and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Youthlink Scotland Scottish Book Trust Aberlour Trust Mind Room Circle Scottish Child minding Association Barnardos Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland Children1st Includem Together Scotland Families Outside One Parent Families Scotland National third sector GIRFEC project/Barnardos Befriending Networks Arthritis Care Young Carers Edinburgh Carers Trust ARC Scotland Scottish out of school care network Scottish Council on Deafness Contact a family Scotland National Parent Forum of Scotland National Deaf children’s Society CARE for Scotland Voluntary Action Scotland Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland Action for Sick Children Capability Scotland Changing Faces Children in Scotland CVO East Ayrshire Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council The British Association for Early Childhood Education Epilepsy Scotland Family Fund Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (Scotland) Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector Play Scotland The Fostering Network The Lifechange Trust National Day Nurseries Association Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Service Scottish Council of Independent Schools Scottish Association of Social Workers Sense Scotland Voluntary Action South Ayrshire Scottish Spina Bifida Association Tomorrow’s People Voluntary Health Scotland Youth Scotland Respect me Scottish Women’s Aid Quarriers Action for Children Child Brain Injury Trust One Parent Families Scotland Relationships Scotland Who Cares Scotland Life Changes Trust Young Scot Samaritans Information Commissioner’s Office Clan Childlaw Achievement Bute Cosgrove Care For Scotland’s Disabled Children Edinburgh Third Sector Interface Scottish Parent Teacher Council

1 December 2016

NO2NP Action Day: Third Sector Engagament Event

The Scottish Government has been holding a number of events for selected stakeholders Victoria Quayin Leith.

Third Sector organisations were invited to discuss future plans for the Named Person as part of the “intense engagement” with those who have concerns” about the scheme.

NO2NP’s request to attend was denied so they held an action day instead.

1 December 2016

South Ayrshire GIRFEC newsletter

The message appears to have filtered through about non-consensual data processing.

“The Supreme Court unanimously held that the information-sharing provisions of Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, are incompatible with the rights of children, young persons and parents, and may result in a disproportionate interference with those rights, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (Right to respect for private and family life). This means that the duty on practitioners, that they must share wellbeing information with the Named Person is not lawful. Parts 4 and 5 of the Act cannot be brought into force, until the legislation is amended.”

“Whilst at one point, practitioners may have been advised “if in doubt: share!” the Supreme Court clearly warns against this approach. Rather, until further guidance is given, practitioners are advised, “if in doubt: seek advice”.”


13 January 2017

Three month programme of engagement events

Obtained via FOI


17 January 2017

SNP accused of ‘running scared’ of ‘super ID database’ plans

The Scottish Government has been accused of “running scared” over controversial proposals for a “super ID database” in Scotland after dithering for almost two years on the plans.

The proposals would see a sweeping extension of the NHS central register (NHSCR), allowing 120 public bodies to obtain information from it. A public consultation into the plans closed in February 2015.

Ministers have played down concerns and insisted the only change being made to the register, which has existed since the 1950s, is the addition of individual’s postcodes. Claims of a super ID database have been flatly rejected.

But opposition parties are now demanding that the Scottish Government end its silence on the issue and set out its plans.

18 January 2017

Has your council run a Named Person scheme?

NO2NP publishes a list of councils and their implementation of named person schemes.

24 January 2017

Guidance Material for Named Person Processes in Relation to the Gypsy Traveller Community (obtained via FOI)

Report by Alan Small (2015) who was commissioned as an independent consultant (no details of the tender for this work are available)

“At the time of compiling this report [early 2015] the Named Person role was established within all schools in Fife”

“The Named Person role is already well embedded in Fife with Head teachers in Primary schools or promoted members of staff, most likely Pastoral care teachers performing the role in secondary schools.”

“…Named Persons will only be able to carry out their role effectively if they are aware of all wellbeing risks that are presented to the children they are responsible for. This fits with the early and effective intervention aspirations of GIRFEC policy and the Act.

30 January 2017

Dundee University: What’s wrong with the ‘Named person’? A discussion

Transcript of speech by Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust: Incompatible with a Free Society

No speaker could be found to support the named person scheme.

January 2017

The Scottish approach to evidence A discussion paper

Draws on debates from the Scottish Approach to Evidence roundtable, hosted by the Alliance for Useful Evidence and Carnegie UK Trust in 2016. (In short the state, assisted by government sponsored vested interests, will decide the desired outcomes for every citizen and make sure they are complied with in the brave new eugenicist Scotland)

“There is an opportunity for Scotland to be a world leader in developing evidence approaches for policy with a prevention, co-production and outcomes focus. For evidence to support the emergent policy approach in Scotland, we need to: • Strengthen the outcomes approach and promote the use of the National Performance Framework at local level. • Invest in high-quality research on co-production. • Help decision-makers, at all levels identify and use a mix of high quality evidence. • Build relationships across professional boundaries, and enable academics and the third sector to work together. • Learn from policy and evidence developments across the UK, and share the Scottish experience.”

2 February 2017

SASO debate – the Named Person scheme

The Named Person Scheme: Will this increase the protection for children and young people or is it an unjustified intrusion into family life?

Guest Speakers: Matt Forde (NSPCC) & Maggie Mellon (independent social work consultant) referring to failure of evidence

6 February 2017

£4m NHS parenting scheme ‘had no impact’

The £4 million spent on parenting initiatives in Glasgow had ‘no impact’ (Triple P). The research specifically notes that programmes that are universal cost a lot and claims of their worth needs to be questioned.

Millions of pounds of public money have been spent on a parenting initiative that has had “no impact” on the young people it is meant to help, research has found.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) formally launched the positive parenting programme — “Triple P” — in May 2010.

It was aimed at helping parents whose children have common social, emotional and behavioural problems and was introduced across the city. Tens of thousands of families have signed up for it.

However, a study analysing data collected over six years suggested that the initiative was “unlikely to produce measurable benefits” and was a waste of NHS resources.

The authors, from the University of Aberdeen, concluded: “Claims that parenting programmes which focus on the whole-population demonstrate significant impact on the health of the population are especially important, because these might have resulted in a substantial commitment of public funds.

“No convincing evidence of benefit for preschool-aged children’s mental health problems from the Triple P programme in the whole-population implementation in Glasgow was found.”

Developed in Australia, Triple P claims to “empower” parents, enabling them to address their children’s problems themselves.

In Glasgow, at least £4 million has been invested in the programme. But after analysing annual data from standard pre-school assessment questionnaires, the researchers found little evidence that Triple P had changed the children’s behaviour.

After analysing annual data from standard pre-school assessment questionnaires, the researchers found little evidence that Triple P had changed the children’s behaviour

The questionnaire lists traits such as “often has temper tantrums or hot tempers”, “easily distracted, concentration wanders”, and “generally obedient, does what adults suggest”. Teachers are asked to match a child’s behaviour with the list, scoring them “not true”, “somewhat true” and “certainly true”.

Responses collected for six years from 2010 showed “no significant improvement in the social, emotional and behavioural difficulties of preschool-aged children.”

The authors found that the “reach” of Triple P was good, in terms of parents with the greatest need starting interventions, but discovered that “fewer than half of families completed group and primary care interventions, with those from more deprived areas and those with more difficulties being less likely to complete”.

This low completion rate might in part explain the lack of impact of Triple P in Glasgow, the study said, but it “may also indicate that it may not have been an appropriate choice of intervention for this population”.

The report added: “It is equally possible that Triple P interventions, even when they were completed, did not affect the mental health problems observed by nursery staff.”

Last year The Times published internal health board documents that showed NHSGCC had purchased Triple P on the basis that it was provided on a not-for-profit basis.

The health board was mistaken. Triple P International Pty Ltd is a for-profit company, whose product was developed by Matt Sanders at the University of Queensland. It has sold about 7 million copies in 25 countries since it began commercial operations in 1996.

Professor Sanders said last night that it was difficult to understand how the authors of the latest paper, published by BMC Pediatrics, reached their conclusion “based on the limited data they have chosen to report on in their study. Consequently the report’s conclusions are vastly overstated.”

He added: “Any paper that produces null findings should be welcomed for what it can teach as long as the evaluation is of sufficiently high quality to provide informative results. We look forward to working with our dissemination partners to see if there are any lessons to be learnt from the current paper, despite our concerns that the paper’s conclusions are overstated.”

An independent report in 2014 showed that 89 per cent of the “evidence-based” analyses of Triple P’s effectiveness were written by experts who had failed to declare an interest in the programme.

Asked about this statistic at the time, Professor Sanders told The Times that declaration of conflict of interest was a “field-wide issue”.

NHSGCC defended its use of Triple P, saying that, at the time, the programme was selected because “published evidence suggested it may have reduced the number of child protection concerns”.

A health board spokesman added: “Families completing interventions reported high levels of satisfaction with the programme and reported improvements in parenting behaviours, emotional wellbeing and child behaviour.

“Through the training and delivery of Triple P, the parenting support infrastructure in Glasgow has matured substantially. It has created a large cohort of practitioners who have professional skills in engaging with families who could benefit from support.”*

[* whether they want it or not}

12 February 2017

Council’s data sharing policy “would not survive a challenge” (Sunday Express)

Long term illegal data-sharing by Dumfries and Galloway Council challenged by parents and slammed by data protection expert.

12 February 2017

Government’s intrusive “wellbeing surveys” quiz school pupils on habits at home (Sunday Express)

“Primary pupils are being quizzed in the classroom about how much alcohol their parents drink, how many toys and computer games they have and even how often they are allowed Irn Bru.”

ScotCen school surveys without opt-in consent being run as part of GIRFEC and Realigning Children’s Services programme.

16 February 2017

Transforming Children’s Futures (with wellbeing questions) website goes down

The Realigning Children’s Services / Transforming Children’s Futures website has been experiencing a significant service interruption since the ScotCen wellbeing questionnaires were (reluctantly) published for parents’ perusal.

Copies have been saved

(RCS website eventually reappeared in August 2017)

17 February 2017

Swinney in denial over dodgy guidance

Letter from John Swinney to constituent claiming 2013 ICO guidance is “legally correct”, despite it having been removed from the Scot Gov website. (Perhaps he doesn’t know?)

Also claims “the ICO has no locus to compel any organisation to remove informtion from their website if they believe it to be of benefit.”

No wonder public and third sector bodies are confused.

26 February 2017

Ministers criticised over named person consultation

Campaigners opposed to the Scottish government’s named person scheme claim ministers have refused to engage with them during a consultation on plans to reform the policy.

Freedom of information requests by the group for details of the consultation discussions were rejected.

NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert said: “The engagement period was really a sham consultation because Mr Swinney only wanted to deal with those who support the scheme and organisations mainly funded by the government.

“He refused to engage with us even though we represent an important cross-section of Scottish society, huge numbers of parents and more than 35,000 people who signed our petition.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The engagement involved more than 50 meetings with some 250 organisations and groups – and included around 700 young people, parents/carers, practitioners and professionals. This included leaders from health, education, local authorities, police, faith communities, charities, unions and professional bodies. The deputy first minister will update parliament in due course.”

26 February 2017

SNP bosses sign NHS patient information storage project without telling anyone

SNP ministers and NHS bosses have signed off a £75million IT project to store and share the confidential health files of everybody in Scotland – without announcing it to the public or Parliament.

The first part of the double contract will see the old patient records system replaced with a modern Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI), allowing health workers real-time access to files at the click of a button.

The second part involves the creation of a new Scottish Child Public Health and Wellbeing System, which will manage the health and social care records of every child in the country.

28 February 2017

Data protection for the education sector – ICO webinar

Covered best practice for collecting and using personal information of pupils and staff within educational establishments. Discussed the ICO’s role and powers if problems with sensitive data occur.

Also looked at the GDPR, which will become law in May 2018 and discussed its likely impact on schools and how the ICO will help institutions meet the new required standards.

1 March 2017

Supreme Court denies Scottish council parental responsibility

The Justices all agreed that the Lord Ordinary had taken a “deficient” approach to the case. They said he “should have made a finding of fact on the balance of probabilities as to whether the allegations [against the father] were true” if he was going to use them to inform his decision.

The Supreme Court declared that there would be no permanence order made and that if the local authority wished to pursue the matter further they would have to launch brand new proceedings as the case would not be sent back to the Court of Session. This would give the council the chance to present evidence which “focuses on matters which are truly relevant to the issues which the court has to determine” rather than unrelated incidents from the father’s past.

Full judgment

To summarise, the Supreme Court overruled the Scottish Courts of Session for failing to properly consider the threshold test that ‘a child could not safely be cared for by a parent’ before agreeing to remove parental rights and agreeing that the child should be adopted. The courts had considered the ‘best interests’ of the child without establishing whether the threshold test had been met.

2 March 2017

Europe’s data protection rules set a high bar for consent – and UK ICO welcomes your thoughts

See also:

4 March 2017

Open data: a blueprint for reforming governments

Alice Moore blog (edited excerpts)

The ‘brain’ is the government. This is from  Nesta, the independent charity, set up by the Cabinet Office which advises governments around the world. [I know. What a nerve !]

“First, data – scraping, mining, and matching. Over one million public datasets are now open; more than 60 governments are part of the Open Government Partnership, and governments are becoming rather more like Richard Rogers buildings with the internal workings made visible. [Made visible to who?] This changing approach to data has big implications for how centres of government are organised…”

…departments and agencies to make more use of formal experiments and trials, [That includes children] leaving behind better evidence for those who come after them…”

“If the late 20th century centre of government was dominated by the spin–doctors working through fairly small numbers of newspapers and broadcasters, the future centre may be dominated by networked communicators influencing the blogosphere, Twitter and their successors…” [Networked communicators ? We have been warned.]

“This requires a major shift in culture and style – to becoming more open, committed to fast learning, less pretending to omniscience.” [Less grandiose ideas like the government pretending to take care of  wellbeing from preconception onwards, perhaps ?]

It doesn’t necessarily need to be big – the low hundreds rather than thousands are suitable for a medium to large nation state. But it does need to be highly skilled; highly networked; and well integrated. [That is the Scottish model of government; i.e. the joined up approach.]

6 March 2017




7 March 2017

Minority groups’ views ignored for ‘intensive’ engagement on named person data sharing

Only handpicked vested interests were invited to participate in the ‘intensive’ engagement, while minority groups, including children, were refused an audience for having a different perception of the problem (created by a government determined to ignore the rule of law).

7 March 2017

John Swinney’s statement to Parliament on ‘next steps’ for the Named Person scheme

Comment from campaigner :

“John Swinney’s statement included a number of ‘fake facts’ that are rooted in fantasy, including the claim that wellbeing is defined in law (it is not and the Supreme Court judgment confirmed this), that parents ‘asked for it’ (how many, where and what did they ask for), parliament passed it (but the people are sovereign in Scotland and parliament was deliberately misled or MSPs chose to breach citizens’ human rights), and the government had engaged in intensive consultation (but only with those who agreed, and mostly with groups funded by the government).

“It was an embarrassing climbdown and the DFM was clinging to the wreckage of oft-repeated lies which are easily exposed as the facts are in black and white in the court ruing. Adam Tomkins MSP hit the nail right on the head with his questioning (and they didn’t dare shout him down like last time when he was accused of lying for reading from the legislation itself!)

“If Swinney considers it inappropriate  to engage with those who disagree in principle with his nasty data thieving scheme, then we will all be able to decline to engage with NPs who, by definition, offend our principles and beliefs. All those parents who are desperate for a NP will have plenty to choose from if the 37k NO2NP petition signatories all send theirs packing.”


Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced yet further delays to the Named Person scheme in a statement to the Scottish Parliament today.

He proposed bringing forward a bill that would include new Named Person data-sharing provisions, in an attempt to address concerns raised by the Supreme Court last July.

Setting out a proposed timetable he said the bill would be expected ahead of the summer recess with the view of commencement in 2018.

He told Parliament this afternoon that the Named Person legislation would be amended to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. He said: “information sharing that was rooted in consent, engagement and empowerment of families was the best way forward. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as where the risk of harm was present, should we consider departing from those core principles.”

This is simply a restatement of the existing law. This is what we argued for in the Supreme Court, and the judges agreed with us.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney reiterates his refusal to meet with NO2NP in response to a question by Jeremy Balfour MSP (video)

Controversial Named Person scheme hit by second delay (STV)

Controversial plans to bring in a “named person” for every child in Scotland have been delayed for a second time, the Scottish Government has announced.

Deputy first minister and education secretary John Swinney said the government is proposing new laws on how and when information on youngsters should be shared.

Swinney told MSPs on Tuesday: “I intend to introduce the bill ahead of the summer recess and I will work with parliament to agree a timetable to enable commencement in 2018.”

The Named Person scheme will appoint a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare* of all children up to the age of 18.

*This should read wellbeing, not welfare (the two are not synonymous and only welfare is legally defined)

Further delay for Named Person scheme (BBC)

Mr Swinney said he had consulted with hundreds of young people and their parents over proposed changes*, and remained “absolutely committed” to the service as a way to support families.

* but refused to engage with NO2NP or others who oppose his plans, including the home educators who were right all along about the data theft behind the scheme.

Campaigners claim Scottish Government named-person policy ‘climbdown’ (Sunday Post)

The No To Named Persons (N2NP) group said the reforms announced by Education Secretary John Swinney were “pointless and superfluous”, and “little more than a face-saving exercise”.

The campaign was involved in a legal challenge to the policy, which resulted in the Supreme Court ruling the data-sharing elements of the scheme were “‘incompatible” with the right to privacy and family life as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

New legislation is now being brought forward by the Scottish Government that will replace parts of the existing Children and Young People Scotland Act of 2014.

Mr Swinney said this approach would require professionals acting as a named person to “consider whether sharing information would promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person”.

They will also have to consider whether sharing information would be compatible with data-protection law, human rights and the law of confidentiality, he added.

NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert said: “However they try to spin it, this is a major climbdown by the Scottish Government.

“After two years of causing fear and confusion amongst parents, they are now conceding that they cannot lower the threshold for non-consensual disclosure of personal information on families.

“They are reverting to the existing threshold of ‘risk of harm’. It’s about time.”

8 March 2017

Named Person policy unclear

P&J Leader


9 March 2017

Tom Peterkin: changes to Named Person show up all its flaws


We are back where we started … The threshold for information sharing without parental permission is only crossed when a child is at risk. The named person concept may still be alive in terms of every child getting one, but arguably its key feature – to lower the threshold for intervention – is now no more. Aside from the rancour, ill-will and parental anxiety, it has not been inexpensive.

12 March 2017

Vulnerable children’s personal data published online 

Scottish Mail on Sunday reports a major data breach by Dundee City Council. There have of course been others (and we mentioned Aberdeen in an earlier entry).

Also reported by Dundee Courier

14 March 2017

GIRFEC Lead Officers Meeting

Meting note at page 24 of this FOI response.

A range of lead officers from local authorities, Police Scotland and Education
Scotland were represented at this meeting.

15 March 2017

ICO finally responds to an enquirer regarding inaccurate data processing ‘advice’ on Perth & Kinross Council’s website:

“The ruling of the Supreme Court was made specifically on the provisions of Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and lawful sharing of data can continue under the provisions of other existing legislation as well on a non-statutory basis. The ruling itself therefore does not necessarily make previous guidance invalid*, particularly when read with our advice issued following the decision of the Supreme Court which the Council has also published.

Given that, and because of the forthcoming proposed changes to the legislation, we do not intend contacting councils about what is currently published on their websites as it will have to be superseded by revised guidance following the amendments to the Act.”

* As well as demonstrating an astonishing level of ignorance of how case law works (the ruling covers all data sharing policy/guidance) the previous guidance alluded to was categorically not in accordace with the law and was therefore always invalid. The threshold for non-consensual processing remains intact (risk of significant harm, not risk to the government’s notion of ‘wellbeing’).

17 March 2017

Scottish Government Meeting Note, CEL29

See Annex B (page 19)  of this FOI response.

GIRFEC implementation managers from Health Boards were present at this meeting.
Purpose of the meeting
To provide Health Boards with an opportunity to discuss with Scottish Government
officials the way forward the Deputy First Minister set out for addressing the
implications of the Supreme Court’s judgment in relation to information sharing for
Parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act).
To update them on progress being made and anticipated in relation to preparing a
Bill to amend the Act and develop specific guidance on information sharing

20 March 2017

NO2NP event: Named Person – doomed or delayed?


Aidan O’Neill QC (video of speech) – Leading human rights lawyer who acted on behalf of parties to the successful Named Person legal action

Jim Sillars (video of speech) – Former deputy leader of the SNP

Kevin McKenna (video of speech)– Columnist regularly featured in The National, The Herald and The Guardian

Maggie Mellon (video of speech) – Independent social work consultant

Stuart Waiton (video of speech) – Sociologist

Mum: ‘I am living proof of the dangers of the Named Person scheme’ (video)

Professor Anderson’s story (video)

Lesley Scott and Alison Preuss: The NO2NP campaign so far

Vox pops – conference attendees

Launch of NO2NP’s new Parents’ Guide to the Named Person Scheme (pdf)

21/22 March 2017

Press coverage of NO2NP event:

The Scotsman: SNP should ‘do a Hammond’ over Named Person scheme – Sillars

See also The Herald P&J Courier

23 March 2017

Getting It Right For Every Child Third Sector Meeting

Note of meeting at page 31 of this FOI response.

“To provide key Third Sector partners and stakeholders with an opportunity to discuss
with Scottish Government officials the way forward in addressing the implications of
the Supreme Court’s judgment for information sharing for Parts 4 and 5 of the
Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act), as set out by the Deputy
First Minister.
To update key Third Sector partners and stakeholders on progress being made and
anticipated in relation to preparing a Bill to amend the Act and develop specific
guidance on information sharing.”

28 March 2017

Third Sector News: Swinney: Not all named person debate has been helpful

“As I – and MSPs of other parties – noted there has been plenty said about the Named Person service in the last few years, not all of it helpful, not all of it true.”

A further indicator of desperation as the DFM once again makes defamatory remarks about the opponents of his ‘dead parrot’ scheme, while wilfully misrepresenting the Supreme Court judgment and contradicting the QC who represented the successful appellants. The lies are all one way from the Scottish Government and others, all clinging to the wreckage of a totalitarian citizen surveillance and profiling scheme.

1 April 2017

‘If you make data generation the goal of education then data is what you will get. Not quality teaching’ (Joe Nutt, TES)

We know that the best secondary school teachers are passionate about their subject yet any opportunity for them to convey that passion has been systematically and implacably stifled out of their classrooms by educational policies built on this game of fantasy statistics.

I’ve no problem whatsoever with governments feeling they need to know about children’s performance if what they want to do is a better job of educating them, at least in maths and reading.

I do have a problem when the statistical faith that underpins that desire becomes so warped it infects the classroom to the point where great teachers are no longer free to educate.

12 April 2017

Information Sharing Stakeholder Reference Group Meeting

(Draft) meeting note at Annex D (page 40) of this FOI response.

“Other topics discussed:
• It was discussed in detail that the area of “neglect” must be covered under
Child Protection or/and Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014 Act.
• The question was asked if Wellbeing, Neglect and Child Protection can be
tied together in the documentation.”

27 April 2017

Third Sector News: SNP told: don’t tell us how to raise our kids

A robust riposte by Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust to John Swinney’s misrepresentation of his state guardian scheme.

“Government is not always synonymous with truth. In Scotland we now have a situation where government is changing the meaning of words. This has the effect of presenting a reality that does not exist.”

“…the problem is the obstinate bullish attitude of a government that refuses to listen or consider any views that do not align or complement those it has already formed. People do not want this scheme; they went to court to stop it and were victorious.

The people believe that the state guardian scheme is fundamentally wrong in principle. Wrong, because it is not, and should never be, the place of government to dictate to parents how to raise their children.

When government starts to view it as their duty to oversee, monitor, assess and judge families, forcing on parents state approved guidelines that carry swift damaging even permanent sanctions for those who do not comply, then we are staring the reality of state approved parenting in the face.

The truth in regards to the state guardian scheme is very different to the propaganda put forth by government and state agencies.”

“Wellbeing as a basis for intervention offers the state a pseudo-scientific authority by which to enforce actions on families against arbitrary and subjective measures that fulfil the state’s objectives regardless of personal freedoms and rights.”

Comments on this article include a fit of pique from Martin Crewe of the state funded ‘children’s charity’ Barnardo’s, which has benefited handsomely from promoting the state guardian scheme along with a cosy coterie of other highly paid sock puppets. Mr Crewe saw fit to denigrate the Tymes Trust, a highly respected small charity which supports families without accepting cash for data.

11 May 2017

Meeting of Health Board GIRFEC Change Managers (CEL 29) Group with
Scottish Government Getting it right for every child Team

Notes of meeting at page 21 of this FOI response.

“The group emphasised the importance of bringing the family along with you
even where there was a clear power to share information; where it was safe to do
so, agreement to share information was normally the way forward even if consent
was not required. This approach promotes continued engagement and trust.”

12 May 2017

GIRFEC Lead Officers Meeting

Meeting note at page 27 of this FOI response.

17 May 2017

GIRFEC Third Sector Meeting

Note of meeting at page 33 of this FOI response.

“A number of group members expressed their disappointment that some
members of the public has not understood the important messages around
Getting It Right For Every Child and early support and expressed their desire
to put this right.. It was thought that the messaging could be that GIRFEC is
introduced as an entitlement for everyone, such as primary care entitlement. ”

20 June 2017

Liam Fee: Significant Case Review published

“The role of the named person under the principles of Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) policy was relatively new in Fife at the time and not always fully understood by professionals, and may have contributed to confusion as to who was co-ordinating care for the family.”

NO2NP comment

Liam Fee murder: Case review highlights ‘missed opportunities’

Child protection officials “missed opportunities” to intervene in the case of Fife toddler Liam Fee, a review into his death has found.

20 June 2017

New draft legislation published, along with the promise of a code of practice to solve everything:

The Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill

It should be noted that information processing involves much more than sharing and is subject to the limiting provisions of the Data Protection Act and ECHR.  Professionals will have to account to data subjects for any (mis)use of their personal information.

Illustrative Code of Practice on information sharing 

This skates on very thin ice as far as compliance with the Supreme Court judgment is concerned and leaves practitioners directly in the firing line if and when they fail to adhere to data protection principles, the GDPR and Article 8 of the ECHR. They will have to be ready to justify every instance of non-consensual data processing when asked to do so by anyone whose personal data they have collected, shared or otherwise used, including family members and third parties.

Call for evidence by Education & Skills Committee (deadline 25 August).

21 June 2017

Meeting between Scottish Government and Named Person Service Providers

See Annex C (page 35) of this FOI response for a forward planning timeline.

26 June 2017

National Implementation Support Group Meeting

See Annex A (page 12) of this FOI response for meeting notes.

June 2017 

GIRFEC in Ayrshire has been busy producing new, distinctly unimproved materials to transform children and families, all of which have missed the salient points of the Supreme Court judgment.

They presume a free ride for the government’s latest attempt to remedy its failed legislation, which may yet become the subject of a further legal challenge if the parliament fails (again) to ensure its compliance with human rights and data protection legislation, including the upcoming GDPR.

The wall planner is especially offensive, but there are downloads for practitioners, parents/carers, and young people which are not an accurate reflection of the law as definitively interpreted by the UK Supreme Court.

girfec ayrshire

girfec ayrshire

July 2017

Home Education & Human Rights on the Isle of Man (download pdf) by Allan Norman

Useful excerpt:

Requirements for Convention-compliant legislation, taken from The Christian Institute & Ors v The Lord Advocate (Scotland) [2016] UKSC 51 (28 July 2016)

“In accordance with the law”

[79]. In order to be “in accordance with the law” under article 8(2), the measure must. . .

  • have some basis in domestic law. . .
  • be accessible to the person concerned. . .
  • [be] foreseeable as to its effects.

These qualitative requirements of accessibility and foreseeability have two elements.

o First, a rule must be formulated with sufficient precision to
enable any individual – if need be with appropriate advice – to
regulate his or her conduct. . .

o Secondly, it must be sufficiently precise to give legal protection
against arbitrariness. . .

[80] . . .this court has explained that the obligation to give protection against arbitrary interference requires that there must be safeguards which have the effect of enabling the proportionality of the interference to be adequately examined. This is an issue of the rule of law and is not a matter on which national authorities are given a margin of
appreciation. . .

[81] In deciding whether there is sufficient foreseeability to allow a
person to regulate his or her conduct and sufficient safeguards against
arbitrary interference with fundamental rights, the court can look not
only at formal legislation but also at published official guidance and
codes of conduct. . .

“Proportionate Interference”

[90] It is now the standard approach of this court to address the following four questions when it considers the question of proportionality:

  • whether the objective is sufficiently important to justify the limitation of a protected right,

  • whether the measure is rationally connected to the objective,

  • whether a less intrusive measure could have been used without unacceptably compromising the achievement of the objective, and

  • whether, balancing the severity of the measure’s effects on the rights of the persons to whom it applies against the importance of the objective,to the extent that the measure will contribute to its achievement, the former outweighs the latter (ie whether the impact of the rights infringement is disproportionate to the likely benefit of the impugned measure).

5 July 2017

Lesely Scott outlinnes ongoing concerns about continuing illegal activities by named persons and other ‘services’ in Third Force News.

Named Person legislation is an assault on families that must be opposed

The Getting it Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) and the Named Person approach remain a clear and present danger for families across Scotland. The reality is that even with the ruling from the UK Supreme Court that deemed the legislation unlawful, practice on the ground, and therefore the experience of families, has not really changed.

Comments below the article reveal the bitter parental backlash against the scheme in its entirety and the loss of credibility of its vested interest supporters.

9 July 2017

Sunday Express article reveals that information about parents has been copied from closed social media groups and passed to councils.

Council’s ‘creepy’ spies snoop on Facebook and pass on pupil’s details

The Mail on Sunday reports on the rising number of parents withdrawing their children from Scottish council schools and discusses reasons for the growth in home education.

Meanwhile the Sun on Sunday reports on the excessive force which has been used by school staff on disabled children who suffered broken teeth, burst blood vessels and bruising while being restrained. The pictures are graphic. Where were the Named Person and Lead Professional?

Scots families’ fury at ‘excessive’ force used to make DISABLED kids behave

10 July 2017

Call Kaye on BBC Radio Scotland (from 2.50)

Short discussion on the reasons for doubling of home education numbers in the past five years.  Home educators cite bullying, unmet support needs, mental health issues including crippling school anxiety, the disastrous Curriculum for Excellence with enforced state outcomes and falling academic standards, the Named Person scheme and erosion of parental responsibilities, snooping and intrusion into family life via data theft in schools and nurseries. All in nine minutes flat!

31 July 2017

More folly from Sweden, whose unenviable track record in breaching citizens’ privacy Scotland is trying hard to emulate by legalising data theft.

The Guardian view on a Swedish scandal: the precedence of privacy

This is a case that has implications far outside the vicious intricacies of Swedish domestic politics. Sweden is often, rightly, praised for its transparency. But opening data to everyone can be as harmful as suppressing it. The care of citizens’ private data is now one of the tasks that any modern state must perform. In the Swedish case, applications for a driving licence can require a doctor’s certificate, which, being electronic, implies access to medical records. It is not enough to point to rules and procedures. The rules were all present in the Swedish case. They were simply ignored, and with no consequences, for far too long. What’s needed are robust methods of enforcing privacy protections, and institutional cultures that take them seriously. The more of our lives we trust to the databases of authority, and the more these are interlinked, the more power we give away to people who might mean us harm. Privacy and security have to take precedence over administrative convenience wherever governments deal with personal information.

31 July 2017

GIRFEC Policy Update  circulated to children’s service providers.

“4.1 The Supreme Court judgment did not require other aspects of Parts 4 or 5 of the Act to be changed. The judgment relates only to the information sharing provisions that were intended to come into force under the Act, not to current practice under Getting it right for every child policy.”

Denial has set in to the point that the government is now blatantly lying to its SHANARRI army of GIRFEC conscripts, or else is clueless as to how case law works. The Supreme Court ruling was (and is) a binding interpretation of overarching human rights and data protection laws and must be applied to all non-consensual data processing in all other policy and guidance (as well as any other legislation, including the Local Goverment Act which has also been used as an ‘enabler’ for data processing that is not in accordance with the law). They are digging the hole deeper as more people become aware that current policies are illegal and have been since at least 2013.

31 July 2017

Documentary finds ‘new evidence’ in Fife child killings

Fife’s Child Killings: The Untold Story, an investigation by BBC Scotland, concentrates on three tragic tots whose deaths shocked the nation: Liam Fee, Mikaeel Kular and Madison Horn.

The programme hears from key witnesses who have never spoken before, as well as department insiders. The documentary also claims to reveal serious concerns about whether people were told the whole truth.

2 August 2017

Fife’s Child Killings: The Untold Story

BBC reveals new evidence about why three children died in Fife in 2014,  calls into question the findings of SCRs and exposes the shambles of Ffe Council social work services.

6 August 2017

Sunday Express articleSNP’s attempt to legalise state snooping on families is ‘doomed to disaster’

THE SNP’s latest attempt to legalise state snooping on families is “doomed to disaster”, according to a leading human rights lawyer.

Allan Norman, who specialises in this area, said: “We have new draft legislation that says, roughly, that officials should share information, provided it is consistent with human rights and data protection laws to do so. True. But I’m afraid that simply shifts the risk to the officials who have to work out what the law means.

“That is grossly irresponsible, and doomed to disaster, if those officials – and the Scottish Parliament – are looking to exactly the same people as didn’t appreciate in the first place that they were getting it wrong, and think that the Supreme Court ruling narrowly applies only to the previous draft legislation.

“Officials who think that that guidance, or their existing practice, is compliant are not only wrong, but are being misled by people who ought to know better.”

Mr Norman said the promotion of the wellbeing of children and young people was not one of the aims listed under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He added: “It therefore cannot be assumed to be necessary to share information on this basis, and if it is not necessary, consent is, in fact, required. Unless everything else built on that guidance, including organisations’ internal policies, and a professional culture of sharing without consent, are reversed, practice will still be unlawful.”

16 August 2017

Scottish Review article: A nation of snoopers 

A new, dedicated information-sharing bill has finally been introduced to parliament in a bid to remedy defective sections of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 which were overturned by the Supreme Court last July for failing to comply with data protection and human rights laws.  The landmark judgement not only cast doubt on the competence of the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise legislation, but also led to questions about the role of the information commissioner, state-funded children’s charities and other vested interests who had resolutely defended the government’s privacy-breaching pet project.

We can only hope that lessons have been learned and that ‘consultation’ this time round is not the pointless exercise that saw legal advice ignored, inconvenient evidence buried and families’ concerns dismissed in order to steamroller through the ill-fated 2014 legislation.

17 August 2017

Faculty suggests improvements to proposals addressing “named person” issues

The Facuty of Advocates draws attention to the failings in the government’s ‘remedial’ legislation in its submission to the Education and Skills Committee on the information sharing bill.

Media coverage of the Faculty’s response:

Revived ‘Named Person’ plans still won’t work, warn legal chiefs

Lawyers’ concerns over attempts to fix named person plans

Lawyers hit out over plans to fix the Named Person policy

Fresh calls for SNP’s ‘detested’ named person policy to be scrapped

‘Named person’ rule changes must go further, say lawyers

18 August 2017

National Implementation Support Group Meeting

See action points on page 14 of this FOI response.

18 August 2017

GIRFEC Named Person data collection and sharing: examples of unlawful guidance

Examples of current unlawful data sharing policies which were all rubber stamped  a year before the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 was passed and more than three years before its information sharing provisions (later struck down by the Supreme Court) were scheduled to come into force.

20 August 2017

Celtic Knot (Allan Norman) on latest attempt to legislate on namedperson in a series of 14 tweets, ending with a worrying prediction that law breaking will continue due to pressure of preferred government policy.

21 August 2017

Swinney’s tweak: a lesson in doublespeak

An examination of John Swinney’s tortuous ‘tweak’.

21 August 2017

Response by Scottish Home Education Forum to Education & Skills Committee on the Children & Young People Information Sharing Bill

Also pdf download

Press release: New named person bill still fails to ‘get it right’

23 August 2017

Challenging the policy of early intervention

The idea of being able to intervene in parenting to ensure better life chances for children feels constructive and positive, but there is little evidence to suggest that it works. Moreover, early intervention doctrine ultimately holds mothers accountable for poverty and other social ills.

24 August 2017

The HeraldCharity in call to scrap revised law on Named Persons

Clan Childlaw has also come out against named person scheme (writing’s on the wall) and urged the government to drop the new bill.

SCOTLAND’S leading child law charity has called for the Government to scrap a law intended to “fix” its controversial Named Person policy.

Clan Childlaw said the bill setting out how and when authorities can share confidential information about children was disproportionate and unnecessary. It also warned the legislation risked adding complexity to the system – when families and professionals instead need rules that can be easily understood.

Clan Childlaw was actually very late to the party. It was home educating families and grass roots groups who fought the data stealing scheme on behalf of all children and adults (researched and documented for 15+ years, starting with the work done by ARCH on the childen’s databases in England) – all because human rights are universal, not pick’n’mix to suit a government or vested interest third sector agenda.

Article 8 was key to the government’s court defeat last year, but the Herald article chose to distort the facts:

“A coalition of Christian charities and opponents challenged the Named Person provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, on the basis they infringed parental rights and would interfere with family life. While most of these arguments were rejected by successive courts, the concerns raised by Clan were key to the decision by Supreme Court judges the Scottish Government must amend the law to make it compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Alison Reid, principal solicitor at Clan Childlaw, said: “We support the principles of the GIRFEC* (getting it right for every child) approach including the need to share information lawfully at an early stage in order to prevent bigger problems developing. However, legislation should be necessary, effective, clear and accessible.

“The bill meets none of those criteria and fails to overcome the difficulties identified by the Supreme Court, in relation to lack of precision and accessibility, and lack of safeguards and consent. Further, it adds nothing to the existing legal framework in which information can currently be lawfully shared. The bill should be withdrawn.”

* Supporting the principles of GIRFEC (based on universal data mining and sharing with no opt-out, and outcome-focused as opposed to rights-based) demonstrates a failure to grasp the agenda behind the policy, which is antithetical to children’s rights.

25 August 2017

Submissions to Education and Skills Committee 

Edited highlights (and low points)

Care Inspectorate confesses:

“..common challenge .. in ensuring children get early help when parents are reluctant to engage or resistant to change. Protocols were in place…to alert managers and relevant people in other services quickly when families did not engage with agreed supports or where cooperation started to wane.” [They missed the judgment?]

The Children’s Parliament (who brought us the head gardener analogy, courtsey of the adults who run it) had not further consulted with children since 2012. It does not appear to understand the law, in particular competence to consent, and would wish to supplant parental responsibility for looking after the best interests of their children (the very thing the Supreme Court warned of in its ‘totalitarian’ reference).

“The Code of Practice as it stands is at risk of doubly discriminating against children with learning disabilities and give professionals permission to deem them incapable of being informed and having their say. It is surely the professional’s responsibility* and role to engage children under 12 in ways that are appropriate to the child. We cannot support practices that disempower the vulnerable child further.” [* It is categorically not].

And their parting shot: “In the 2012 consultation children also told us that the
Government needs to talk to parents and other adults about children’s rights, so that
everyone can work together for children. One child said: “The politicians should have a discussion to the parent and decide what’s better and then look after you and protect you forever and discuss children’s rights”.” [Indoctrinating children to believe in the primacy of the state by distorting human rights instruments is chilling for anyone with a clue about modern European history].

Dumfries & Galloway Council seemed to have spotted the glaring consent/threshold anomaly:

“..there remains some confusion regarding the differentiation between “promote, support and safeguard” specifically for practitioners and for the processes required regarding the previously articulated advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office that consent should not be asked for if information will be shared anyway.” [This council has already received complaints about data processing without consent or necessity, which have been escalated].

CELCIS actually quotes from the 2013 ICO guidance and Perth & Kinross’s policy, both rendered unlawful in 2016. [Rather like the goverment’s desperate repetition of lower Courts of Session judgments that were overturned by the UK Supreme Court in its superior and binding ruling]:

“We are concerned that without accessible, explicit guidance, recent progress in
improving information sharing will be lost. With high-profile media attention on the
subject, such as that surrounding the ‘No 2 Named Person’ campaign, and in the
absence of clear guidelines, professionals are likely to adopt risk-averse positions around information sharing, preoccupied with concerns about breaching the confidentiality of parents and children. A long and harrowing series of Fatal Accident Inquiries and Serious Case Reviews have shown* a consistent failing of the system of appropriate, proportionate information sharing, within the bounds of the law, at earlier opportunities. ”

*The most recent SCR (Liam Fee) has shown that information was known, shared and not acted upon  – as have the majority of others. Child protection procedures were unaffected by the Supreme Court judgment and the confusion was caused by the goverment and its cheerleaders conflating protection with wellbeing and resorting to shroud-waving in order to fool the public while vilifying those who opposed GIRFEC / named person interference with all children and families. 

“There are excellent examples of practitioner guidance on information sharing in
existence, for example that produced by Perth & Kinross Child Protection Committee,
cited as a good practice example on Scottish Government’s GIRFEC information sharing
webpage.* This example contains clear information about how to decide to share
information, how and when to seek consent, what to discuss with line managers, and
summarises the process in a simple flowchart.”

*Links from the Scottish Government webpage to Perth & Kinross Council’s ‘recommended’ informamtion sharing resources are dead. The flowchart referred to used the wrong threshold of wellbeing for non-consensual data processing.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) (funded by goverment and blocks a national parent support network and parents opposed to GIRFEC/Named Person on social media):

“The GIRFEC messages, i.e. the intentions and overarching principles, are not understood by many of the parents we are in contact with. It is unfortunate that mainstream media has engrained political objectives alongside the GIRFEC message; Scottish Government must work to correct this.” [Unfortunate for the government that families found out after the mass data sharing scheme had been deliberately concealed from them. The genie has left the bottle].

SPTC identified the loss of trust between families and services:

“In short, the Children and Young People’s Act stopped being for parents and started being about them and thus not only became unworkable but also, in the Supreme Court last year, was identified as being unlawful.”

“The passage of the Children and Young People’s Act has been a bruising and damaging one for Government and lead to a great deal of confusion and concern for families and professionals alike. Most critically it is undermined trust between families and those who are in roles which should provide help and support where it is needed.”

Some excellent and thoughtful responses were submitted, several of them referencing Allan Norman’s analysis of the weaknesses of the original legislation and the current bill. Others seemed to have missed the salient points that needed to be remedied for the legislation to be lawful.

The chorus line of children’s charities, whose support for the illegal bill was especially vociferous, was subdued and referred to a separate Information Sharing briefing from Together which did not appear on the list of submissions:

“Throughout the consultation for the 2014 Act and the subsequent consultation for the new Bill, it is clear that children and young people have had strong views on the issue of consent. It is not enough to rely on an undrafted Code of Practice to ensure that the views of children and young people are taken into account when sharing information about them.”

“It is wrong to allow a Bill to pass through the Scottish Parliament which is reliant on an unpublished Code of Conduct to meets its obligations to children’s human rights.”

Conclusion: Not looking good for the governnment.

28 August 2017

Further submissions of written evidence published on parliament website.

31 August 2017

Gap? What Gap?

Professor John Raven’s latest paper outlines observations derived from his 60 years in educational research.

Page 28/29, Appendix B: Early Intervention: A Worse Than Selective Review of the Literature

How has it come about that one small educational intervention programme accompanied by a misleading evaluation (out of the many thousand such studies that could have been cited to show that most early-intervention programmes do not work) has come to be cited in report after report as justification for deeply intrusive intervention programmes?
So we see, yet again, the significance of failing to implement comprehensive evaluations. No one sought to enquire into the disbenefits of the programme, especially to those who were in neither the experimental nor control groups of the study.

Instead we are treated to some somewhat fantastical conclusions to justify the programme. As with many misleading conclusions derived from playing with spreadsheets, these derive from the assumptions that are fed in and neglect of the norm-referenced nature of the criteria.

The money saved by not being in remedial education and prison is calculated. The gain to society of being employed is calculated. WOW.

But remember: the remedial education places were not left empty, the money was spent on someone else. The prisons were not left empty. If ex-pupils from the experimental group got jobs (and thus became less dependent on welfare) someone else did not.

And so the net gain to society was …….… zero!

1 September 2017

Latest SPICe briefing report

Includes a selective summary of reaction to the bill.

3 September 2017

Just one day’s training has bee factored in to undo years of GIRFEC named person data theft. The cost of denial will be massive for the taxpayer.

‘Named person’ opponents condemn day’s training plan (Sunday Times, paywalled)

Named Persons to receive just a day of training (Scotland on Sunday)

Scotland’s Named Persons are to be given just one day of training to prepare for making decisions about the future of other people’s children, an official document has revealed.

The Scottish Government has set aside £1.2 million to give a day’s training to the teachers, health visitors and nurses who are expected to take on the Named Person’s role.

The training day will focus on sharing information about children – one of the most contentious aspects of the controversial Scottish Government scheme.

According to the SPICe document, a range of children’s organisations made a joint submission. They remained “supportive of the principle of the Named Person,” but had concerns about the need for clear communication with 
families and professionals about the Named Person and how to share information lawfully.The 46 submissions made to the committee reflected a “general concern” about the complexity of the decisions Named Persons were being asked to make.The complexity of the language and jargon used in the Named Person’s code of practice was commented on by several critics of the scheme. Given that it is supposed to safeguard a child’s “well-being”, many organisations expressed concerns about the difficulty of defining such a vague term and using it to determine when to take action. “The Bill fails to address fundamental concerns that were expressed during 2015- 2016 regarding arbitrary interference by the State in private and family life,” said Dr Gary Clapton and Professor Viv Cree of Edinburgh University Social Work.“Any definition of well-being (and importantly who is to be held responsible for the lack of well-being) is likely to be disputed by the public, academics and professionals because of the subjective nature of the various social, cultural, national, and religious dimensions and standards (to name a few) that may be argued, when positive, constitute well-being.

3 September 2017

New curriculum could be ‘disastrous’, says education expert

Prof Lindsay Paterson, from the University of Edinburgh, said the programme lacked “academic rigour” and was “dumbing down” education.
He also said the programme, introduced in Scotland’s schools in 2010, could widen the attainment gap, not close it.
The Scottish government insisted CfE was “strong, bold and effective”.
Prof Paterson said that while politicians at Holyrood were listening and were “quite open to criticism”, the concerns of academics about the curriculum were being stifled by a fear of challenging the pervading “left-of-centre” political consensus.
He also said a fear of criticising government policy stemmed from a perceived risk to future research contracts.

3 September 2017

Call for inquiry into Scots child protection services amid claims of ruined families (Sunday Express)

A GRANDFATHER is calling for an inquiry into child protection services in Scotland amid claims overzealous state interference is ruining thousands of lives.
James Mackie says the current system is “outdated, out of control and unmanaged” with parents now expected to “prove their innocence” when there are concerns about a child.
He has now submitted a petition to Holyrood, urging MSPs to investigate all aspects of child protection starting with the “endemic culture” which views social workers, charities and government agencies as “above reproach”.
Since the SNP came to power in 2007, the number of looked after children has risen 12 per cent from 12,399 to 13,840. Within that total, the number being looked after away from home has shot up by more than 50 per cent from 7,465 to 11,447.
Over the decade, the percentage of looked after children in Scotland has gone from being comparable with the other Home Nations to almost double that of England and Northern Ireland and well above that of Wales.
Maggie Mellon, one of Scotland’s leading social workers, said horrific cases such as the murder of Liam Fee in Fife had made social workers, sheriffs and other professionals too quick to remove children from their parents.
In many cases families are now being torn apart for the most trivial reasons, often involving a child with behavioural problems due to undiagnosed autism or some other underlying condition.
“Some people are good parents and some are less good but you can’t just go around removing children because you think it could be done better.”
“There are some very worrying trends going on in Scotland that need to be brought to the surface and parents need to know the proper safeguards are in place or in 20 years time we will be having another inquiry that looks at why all these children were wrongfully removed from their families.”

4 September 2017

“The named person policy has attracted so much criticism, not least because it breached European Human Rights, do you accept you got it wrong?

We accept the ruling of the Supreme Court.

The named person service was developed in response to parents’ expressed wish for a clear point of contact to access help. It is built on the principles of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ensuring the rights and wellbeing of children and young people are at the heart of the services that support them.

It has the support of the Scottish Parliament, backed by parent groups and many children’s charities, and endorsed by the Supreme Court as ‘unquestionably benign and legitimate’. The only changes they required were how decisions were made to share information to support a child’s wellbeing. The changes introduced by the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill, which is currently before parliament, will ensure that children and families can have confidence that information about the wellbeing of children and young people is processed in a way that respects their rights and the founding principles of the Getting it Right for Every Child approach.

We remain absolutely committed to the named person service as a way to support children and young people by working in partnership with them and with families. The service means children and families have equal access to the right support at the right time, if they need it, regardless of where they live. We have engaged widely with parents, practitioners and others since the Supreme Court ruling, and continue to do so.”

[Fisked on Home Ed Forums as the deputy first minister resorts to denial and dissembling in order to salvage the wreckage of an illegal policy]

4 September 2017

GIRFEC Lead Officer Meeting

Note of meeting at page 29 of this FOI reponse.

Police Scotland – national partners – does not feel like it needs to comply. Will
continue to operate a no consent model. Has created issue for LA’s.
 Parents and families believing the press rather than reality. Need more
communication for everyone to know what is happening.
 More FOI requests.

5 September 2017

Petition lodged with Scottish Parliament by James Mackie.

PE01673: Operation and running of child protection services in Scotland

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create an independent, QC-led inquiry into the operation and running of child protection services in Scotland.

4 September 2017

Leading independent school principal warns SNP state guardian code of practice is ‘unworkable’ (Telegraph)

David Gray, the head of Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools (ESMS) in Edinburgh, said the onerous duties imposed by the Scottish Government’s code for Named Persons makes it less likely than at present that sensitive information about an at-risk child would be shared.

In a submission to a Holyrood inquiry, he said the code imposes an “unreasonable” series of tests, some of which could only be proven in a court of law, that would be “unworkable and militate against beneficial action in favour of the child.”

Arguing that teachers were being put in an “awkward position”, he said that weighing up whether to act in the best interests of a child “ought to be a simple decision” but they must now undertake “a whole series of tests.”

5 September 2017

Threats of further legal action against controversial Named Person scheme over fears data could be shared for ‘trivial’ reasons (Scottish Sun)

CAMPAIGNERS against the controversial ”named person” scheme have threatened further legal action unless fresh legislation is significantly altered.

The charity’s policy officer Gordon Macdonald said: “There are still serious problems within this Bill that have not been addressed by Scottish Government.

“The failure of the Scottish Government to define wellbeing is particularly problematic and concerning. Without a clear definition, this opens up the possibility of personal data being shared without legitimate concerns for the most trivial of reasons.

“When consent is not obtained from either parents or young people, named persons are still being asked to share information without a clear legal threshold being identified on the face of the Bill.

“The Government needs to place parents at the heart of the bill, as they are in the best place to take care of their children. Doing this would save the government from having to make another embarrassing climbdown in the future.”

Also reported in the Herald: Charity threatens to return to court over named person policy

6 September 2017

Education and Skills Committee, 6 September 2017

Official Report

Deeply disappointing performance in which there was no mention of the legal threshold for non-consensual data processing (which is not wellbeing). Why has the government (and lackeys) been allowed to keep claiming that (a) we all asked for it; (b) current policy and practice is legal; (c) wellbeing has a precise definition, rather than being a vague noition open to subjective interpretation by prejudiced professionals with no understanding of overarching legislation; and (d) the ‘engagement’ has been ‘intensive’ when so many ‘stakeholders’ were deliberately excluded? And why was all the discussion of evidence held in private when the submissions are already in the public domain? Were they too feart that NO2NP taxidermists will tell them their parrot has snuffed it?

Late evidence submissions for consideration by committee on 13 September


  1. The Supreme Court did not simply state that the information sharing provisions of the 2014 Act were not ‘in accordance with the law’, if highlighted significant difficulties in reading across the 2014 Act and the Data Protection Act (DPA):

‘The relationship between the Act and the DPA is rendered particularly obscure by what we have described as the logical puzzle arising from sections 23(7) and 26(11) when read with section 35(1) of the DPA… There are thus very serious difficulties in accessing the relevant legal rules when one has to read together and cross refer between Part 4 of the Act and the DPA and work out the relative priority of their provisions.’

  1. Inserting the phrase ‘consider whether the identified nformation/relevant information could be so provided in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998, any directly applicable EU instrument relating to data protection, any other enactment and any rule of law’ seems to be a very crude and ill-thought-out way of attempting to address the concerns raised by the Supreme Court regarding confusion, and fundamentally does not remove the need to read together and crossrefer the proposed amended Act and the DPA. This approach will simply make schools and teachers responsible for resolving the Supreme Court’s ‘logical puzzle’ in respect of the read-across between the Named Person requirements and the DPA, presumably because the Scottish Government does not know how the puzzle can be resolved in practice.   In this context, it is hard to view the proposed draft as any more than a blatant and cynical attempt at buck-passing, where the focus is on protecting Scottish Ministers from further legal action, rather than providing meaningful support to practitioners on how the Named Person requirements can be implemented. If the highest judicial minds in the UK could not resolve the tensions between the DPA and the Named Person, how are legally unqualified staff across the education system expected to do so?

Scottish Womens Aid

A number of Women’s Aid groups currently engage with non-statutory Named
Person schemes; they report that Named Person responses to cases of domestic
abuse are patchy, and depend greatly on individuals’ training and awareness of the
specific issues and complexities around domestic abuse. There have been extremely
concerning cases where a Named Person has inappropriately shared information
with a perpetrator about their child accessing Women’s Aid services, thereby
increasing the risk to the child and their mother and leading to children being
prevented from accessing specialist Women’s Aid services and support. This surely
goes against the very ethos of the Named Person service to promote and support
the wellbeing of children and young people.

10 September 2017

Police Scotland is routinely adding children to its Vulnerable Persons Database on the basis of subjective SHANARRI wellbeing indicators without evidence of risk of harm and, apparently, no accountability. This article focuses on reported figures from Moray Children’s Services Transitional Group – Children’s Profile and Analysis 2017 [local copy here in case of deletion], but the practice is nationwide.

1 in 6 children put on at-risk register by police (Mail on Sunday)

11 September 2017

Named person legislation isn’t transparent (Third Force News)

Lesley Scott believes Scottish ministers are not being open about Named Persons legislation

…ministers stated that they were withholding the information requested because it would be published within 12 weeks. However, what was eventually published turned out to be a series of meeting summaries, not detailed formal minutes.

… the government were definite in this respect: there are no formal minutes held by the ministers for any of the meetings, there are no formal minutes of the meetings held by any of the other host organisations; in short, no formal minutes were taken at any of the engagement meetings.

 The Commissioner comments that: “this may raise broader questions about the way in which the ministers record (or do not record) information about meetings in which they participate.”

Crucially, the commissioner “accepts that there was a deliberate decision to create meeting summaries instead of formal minutes for the meetings relating to the information sharing provisions of the Named Person policy”. The views of one person who participated in the “intense engagement” regarding the meeting summary are included in the commissioner’s decision.

In terms of what was covered, the key points are there but it does not accurately reflect the range of views expressed. Many of those there expressed concern about NP where they had not previously.

19 September 2017

Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee

3. Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill: The Committee will take evidence on the Bill at Stage 1 from— John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills; Ellen Birt, Bill Team Leader; John Paterson, Divisional Solicitor, Scottish Government.

John Swinney disagrees with the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society and considers himself above the law. MSPs are not looking convinced.

20 September 2017

Education & Skills committee meeting (full video)

Kenny Meechan for the Law  Society (video)

Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill: The Committee will take evidence on the Bill at Stage 1 from—
Kenny Meechan, Solicitor and member of the Privacy Law Sub-Committee, The Law Society of Scotland;
Janys Scott, QC, Faculty of Advocates;
and then from—
Dr Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian;
Professor Hugo van Woerden, Director of Public Health, NHS Highland;
Valerie White, Consultant in Dental Public Health, NHS Dumfries and Galloway;
Jean Cowie, Principal Educator, NHS Education for Scotland;
Annette Holliday, Health Visitor and member of Unite;
Lorna Greene, Policy Officer, Royal College of Nursing Scotland.

Law Society appeared to say that current practices have been outwith the law and dentist appeared to admit they have been using the wrong threshold under guidance. Health visitors failed to recognise they are an optional ‘service’ that can be declined without detriment (like schooling). MSPs were still woefully ignorant of thresholds and conflated protection and wellbeing, while missing the point that services are there to support those who choose to use them to fulfil parental duties and resposibilities in the way they decide is in their children’s best interests. Fiddling with the consent threshold risks a rapid descent into a totalitarian regime.

Named person data-sharing law ‘could lead to more legal battles’, warn lawyers (Holyrood Magazine)

The Scottish Government’s draft legislation to allow professionals to share information with a child’s named person could lead to further legal challenges, lawyers have warned MSPs.

Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee this morning, Kenny Meechan of the Law Society of Scotland and Janys Scott QC of the Faculty of Advocates said the law to fix the issue was based on an “inadequate” statutory code of practice, which is still in draft form.

Meechan said the code was “misleading at best” and would require a “deeper level of understanding” from professionals such as teachers.

“They will need their lawyer on speed dial,” he said.

Scott said parents may be reluctant to share info like their post-natal depression with medical professionals if they think it might get back to their child’s teachers.

Meechan also said introducing the proposed law was a “near impossible task” while regulations around information sharing was “a moving target”.

Imminent introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at a UK level “changes everything” around consent, he said.

Scots teachers could face court under new Named Person plan (The Scotsman)

Lorna Greene, policy officer for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland, said the judgment had led to “confusion and nervousness” and the organisation was concerned the change in the legislation could turn decisions into a “tick box exercise”.

“RCN thinks it could potentially have quite a significant impact in the form of leading to defensive practice,” she said. “By introducing a duty to consider, we’re worried professionals might find themselves becoming nervous and wanting to evidence and sort of cover all their bases which would take time away from that meaningful face-to-face interaction.”

She added: “We are concerned … that our members could find themselves exposed to professional risk that wasn’t there previously and is disguised in this bill by hiding behind words like organisations and service providers.”


Janys Scott QC, on behalf of the Faculty of Advocates, told MSPs that if families don’t know what professionals are going to do with their personal information it may affect what they are willing to share.

She gave the example of a mum who may be hesitant to talk about her post-natal depression with medical professionals if she thinks it might be fed back to her child’s teachers. NO2NP has long argued that the invasive Named Person scheme would damage trust between families and professionals.

Both lawyers said the Scottish Government’s current plans could result in further legal challenges.

The lack of definition of the term “wellbeing” remained a central problem, and concerns were raised about potential confusion over the threshold for intervention by a Named Person.

21 September 2017

First Minister repeated two big lies at FMQs in response to Ruth Davidson MSP, namely that the named person scheme was (a) about child protection, and (b) ruled by the Supreme Court to be legitimate and benign, which was categorically not the case.

Letter sent by Education & Skills Committee Convener to John Swinney asking for clarity about how the scheme would work in practice and requesting a revised Code of Practice following evidence heard by the committee from lawyers and health professionals’ bodies.

MSPs call for clarity over named persons system (BBC report)

26 September 2017

More than 400,000 Scots labelled ‘vulnerable’ on police database (BBC)

Officers attending incidents or crimes add people to the list if they consider them at risk of future harm.
The Information Commissioner said the database breached the Data Protection Act because it lacked an information removal policy.
Police Scotland said it was working to bring it into compliance with the act.
Many people were not told that they had been put on the system.
The force said that the database allowed officers to collate information about vulnerable adults and children – which offered “real opportunities” to prevent future crime.
Figures obtained by the BBC show that there are currently 412,000 adults and children on the Vulnerable Person Database (VPD) – an increase of more than a third since February last year when there were 302,346 on the system.
It was set up to comply with the Child and Young Persons Scotland Act, which Scottish government ministers hoped would include a “named person” scheme.
That has been delayed after Supreme Court judges ruled against certain aspects of the proposals in 2016.
Det Ch Insp Conway added that Police Scotland had done “a lot of work” following the Supreme Court judgement in July last year.
He said: “We believe were still acting within our legal basis in terms of our core purpose and improving safety and wellbeing.

Except the powers do not extend to adding citizens to a database without their consent on the basis of an illegal ‘wellbeing’ threshold.

Despite admitting to databasing citizens since 2013, Police Scotland has bizarrely claimed the powers came from the GIRFEC ‘wellbeing”named person’ data sharing provisions of the 2014 CHYP Act (which never came into statutory force as scheduled for August 2016 after being struck down by the Supreme Court). However, the databasing commenced much earlier using a different statutory gateway (also illegal) which had been rubber stamped by none other than the Ass Scottish ICO.

The VPD ‘concern reports’, based on the same SHANARRI indicators that the Supreme Court found ‘vague, have included such observations as ‘mollycoddled’ and ‘over-nurtured’ in relation to home educated children, whcih have been passed around agencies.

Herald coverage
Scottish Sun: Here’s how to check if you are one of 400,000 people on Police Scotland’s secret database
Care News report
Evening Express report

27 September 2017

Call Kaye BBC Radio Scotland phone-in debate on named person

The Named Persons Legislation is being discussed at Holyrood again today. Is it time to call it quits or is it worth saving?

Gepostet von The Kaye Adams Programme am Mittwoch, 27. September 2017


27 September 2017

Education & Skills Committee meeting (video)

Evidence on Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill from —

Dr Gary Clapton, Senior Lecturer, Social Work, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh;
Andrew Keir, GIRFEC Manager, North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership;
Jackie Niccolls, Team Leader, Social Work Services, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership;
Jenni Brown, Principal Teacher of Pupil Support, Dumfries and Galloway Council Education Services.

Several admissions by service providers of data processing without consent on the basis of wellbeing concerns (below the legal threshold). Mention of SEEMiS database forming chronologies on children.

No new guidance on Named Persons, Swinney tells MSPs (Herald)

EDUCATION secretary John Swinney has rejected MSPs’ calls for new guidance about the operation of the controversial Named Person scheme.

MSPs on the Education Committee wrote to the minister last week asking for an updated version of this code of practise – which will advise anyone appointed as a named person about when they can share information and seeking consent.

28 September 2017

Scottish Police Authority meeting (livestream video)

Discussion of Vulnerable Persons Database (approx 24 mins in). Acting chief constable admits that Police Scotland operates without an ethics panel and no clear framework for data processing with over 40,000 Scots citizens currently on the database, many of whom do not know. In other words, not in accordance with the law. A ‘weeding’ process will not be enough.

3 October 2017

Teachers’ warning on SNP state snooper bid (Daily Mail)

EIS has voiced concerns not only about the named persson, but about the whole GIRFEC framework: “There are growing concerns about the viability of the Named Person and that of the Get It Right or Every Child  agenda more widely, in practice.”

4 October 2017

Education & Skills Committee meeting (video)

Evidence on Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill from —
Gillian Fergusson, Depute Rector for Pastoral Care, on behalf of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools;
Lisa Finnie, President, Scottish Guidance Association;
Maria Pridden, Classroom Assistant and member of Unison;
Lorraine McBride, Headteacher and member of EIS;
Christine Cavanagh, Network Chair for the Lanarkshire area, National Day Nurseries Association;
and then from—
Dr Ken Macdonald, Head of ICO Regions, Information Commissioner’s Office;
Maureen Falconer, Regional Manager- Scotland, Information Commisioners Office.

Another unedifying spectacle. Highlights / low points from the panel:  “Finding a way round” the law is already happening (human rights are clearly seen as an inconvenience). If parents don’t subscribe to GIRFEC state dictated outcomes, as interpreted by ‘professionals’ using vague SHANARRI indicators, they want “clout” (to bypass consent, i.e. breach human rights). Putting families’ personal data on to the SEEMiS database is required as well and no one has ever mentioned data security. On whether the term ‘wellbeing’ needed statutory definition, one said: “I thought I knew what it meant until I heard that people didn’t know what it meant – and now I think I don’t know what it means.”

Professionals are still very worried about personal liability (if not in court, it will be before professional bodies and/or in the media). None of them appeared to have a clue about the GDPR and described workloads that call into serious question their own mental wellbeing and competence to supervise other people’s children.

The ICO representatives claimed (in relation to embarrassing emails obtained via FOI) not to have been “disappointed” with the court ruling itself, but that the government had got it wrong, while admitting reputational damage to the regulator. They appeared to have forgotten that they had agreed a joint statement with the ‘GIRFEC team’ in 2013 to free up information sharing under current legislation and being complicit in rubber-stamping the precursor to the illegal police Vulnerable Persons Database in 2012 – see 26 September 2017 entry). While claiming expertise on the data protection ‘regime’, they failed to understand the limiting provisions of the Human Rights Act.

Teachers ‘worrying ourselves sick’ over named person scheme problems (Evening Express)


Named Persons may deter teachers from becoming headteachers (Scotsman)

13 October 2017

Making a ‘dog’s dinner’ of Named Person legislation (TES, Henry Hepburn)

The lack of a fixed definition of the term ‘wellbeing’ is fuelling teachers’ anxiety

“Wellbeing” seems at first like a thoroughly uncontroversial word, especially in schools. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to ensure pupils’ wellbeing?

Yet that word became a bone of contention in Parliament last week – because, it seems, no one knows exactly what wellbeing is.

And this is not a matter of mere semantics. Teachers are deeply concerned about a lack of precision around such terms in relation to the under-fire Named Person scheme and the legislation it stems from. Without more clarity, educators fear, they could make mistakes and find themselves in legal trouble.

The Named Person scheme would provide each under-18 in Scotland with a single point of contact – often a teacher or headteacher – to oversee their welfare. But it hit a bump in the road last year when the Supreme Court in London ruled that the scheme could “give rise to disproportionate interferences” in family life.

Lack of clarity

Several educators gave evidence last week to the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee on the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) Bill, when they expressed concern about a lack of clarity over what was expected of them.

A written submission from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) stated: “While the bill aims to bring ‘consistency, clarity and coherence’ to the practice of sharing information about a child’s wellbeing, there is an inherent issue: the definition of wellbeing is so broad that different practitioners will interpret this in various ways.”

SCIS said that the new legislation’s expectations of schools regarding issues of “significant wellbeing concern” were a “grey area” that should be “more clearly defined before any rationale for information sharing can be determined”.

Maureen Falconer, Scotland regional manager for the Information Commissioner’s Office, was asked to clarify the legal requirements that allow information to be shared about a child when wellbeing – rather than child-protection concerns – is the issue.

“Therein lies the conundrum,” Ms Falconer said. She added that there was a “little grey area” between a risk of “significant harm” to a child and a minor wellbeing issue that would not cause them harm.

Alison Preuss, a coordinator of the Scottish Home Education Forum and part of the No2NP (No to Named Person) campaign, told Tes Scotland after the meeting: “Wellbeing is not defined and has been said yet again today to be subjective, therefore it can’t possibly meet the requirement for precision in law.”

She said the situation was a “dog’s dinner”, which could end up back in court. She predicted that teachers would have to field many complaints from parents over subjective wellbeing information about their children.

The National Day Nurseries Association, meanwhile, said that there was anxiety among early-years staff over the legal status of named persons and what precisely their duties entailed.

‘Anxiety and frustration’

Primary headteacher and EIS teaching union representative Lorraine McBride, when asked by the committee whether increased paperwork could lead to mistakes being made, said: “If headteachers are not supported in this process, things can get missed.”

She said that headteachers were concerned about the expectations that were being placed on them and what happens if someone gets something wrong.

The perceived lack of clarity around wellbeing appears indicative of broader concerns. The Scottish Guidance Association, for example, advised the committee that, while it had been “largely supportive” of Scotland’s Getting It Right for Every Child approach, “the lack of consistency and clear direction from leaders, has caused anxiety, frustration and unmanageable workload issues within the [teaching] profession”.

The association’s president, Lisa Finnie, said last week that there was probably a need for the Named Person scheme, but that it suffered from inconsistent approaches around Scotland. Gillian Fergusson, a depute rector for pastoral care representing SCIS, said there was confusion around when a parent could opt out of the Named Person scheme.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The Named Person functions are integrated into and clarify the role of promoted teachers who already have responsibilities for providing advice, information and support to children and parents.

“We will continue to provide full support to all those who are involved in implementing this legislation, which will ensure children and young people get the right support, from the right people, at the right time.”

Article in the Sunday Guardian (India) by a retired medical secretary from Scotland with a degree in health science who has followed the GIRFEC policy and legislation closely.

Some ethical objections to the ‘Named Person Scheme’ 

Many comments from abroad questioned the moral fibre of parents in Scotland at the easy implementation of an Act that Hitler or Stalin could only have dreamed about. What had happened to the freedom loving Scots?

The truth is that the Named Person Scheme was developed in committee rooms under the radar of the Scottish population and with hardly any mainstream media attention at all. While it took several years of training and conferencing to prepare health visitors, teachers and social workers to take on the role of the Named Person, parents were kept in the dark and the last people to know what was coming down the pipeline. There is no doubt that this level of secrecy implies that those policy officials arranging the Named Person trials and training were well aware of the potential unpopularity of the scheme, as later polls eventually revealed it to be.

As it happened there were small groups in Scotland more alert to these matters than the population at large. For example, Schoolhouse, a home education support group, is representative of an independently minded set of people well aware when the state threatens to encroach on their freedom to educate their own children. It was one of the first groups to raise the alarm, not an easy task, since the BBC and local newspapers were not interested initially. Other groups, such as the Tymes Trust, Clan Childlaw Centre and Christian organisations, joined together with Schoolhouse to form the “No to Named Persons” or “NO2NP” campaign, amassing thousands of signatures against the policy. But it was when NO2NP appealed the legislation through the courts that the media finally took an interest.

16 October 2017

Does child protection guidance discriminate against disabled children?  (Special Needs Jungle)

The child protection guidance operates on the assumption that serious case reviews help us identify abusers and those they abuse by finding ‘risk characteristics’ that everyone can be assessed by.
Dr Lauren Devine argues that, “The current approach is driven by fear rather than by the evidential reality of whether you can predict who will abuse their child”.” Devine obtained and reviewed the recommendations of all available Serious Case Reviews and found that they are costly and provide no reliable research findings on which to base future policy. This is supported by an independent report carried out by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Alan Wood in 2016 who concluded that the process was, “discredited” and unfit for purpose.”
So why aren’t the government and NICE taking on board the evidence that current safeguarding guidance is a flawed system? Why aren’t safeguarding outcomes audited? Why are self-proclaimed experts teaching practitioners to suspect parents based on signs that have no factual basis? And why, when services are at breaking point, are we resorting to repeating the same approach that has actually meant that fewer abused children are protected and more children from loving families have harm inflicted on them?
Isn’t it time we stopped being so scared of having an open and honest conversation about child protection? Isn’t it time we stopped demonising all parents, and stopped putting child protection ‘experts’ on untouchable pedestals?
So let’s stop repeating the same mistakes and learn from best practice rather than guidance that tells us to ignore our instincts and use an assessment tool that is no more accurate than rolling a dice.

19 October 2017

Scotland to be first part of UK to ban smacking children (Scotsman)

Scotland is set to become the first part of the UK to ban parents from smacking their children, after the SNP confirmed that it will back a change to the law. The Scottish Government said it would “ensure” that proposals put forward by the Green MSP John Finnie were implemented, after previously suggesting it would merely not oppose them Mr Finnie has brought forward a Member’s Bill which aims to remove the defence of “justifiable assault” from Scottish law, which can currently be used by parents who punish their children.

Smacking to be banned in Scotland (BBC)

Calls for UK-wide ban on smacking children after Scottish move (Guardian)

Children’s commissioners of all four nations welcome confirmation Scotland will give minors same legal protection as adults. *

*  Except in schools and ‘care’ settings. No equal protection from violence and abuse is to be afforded in this bill to children who are frequently physically restrained and isolated  by staff members who are in loco parentis but immune from prosecution.

25 October 2017

Education & Skills Committee meeting (video)

Evidence on Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill from —Norman Conway, Detective Chief Inspector, Police Scotland;
Megan Farr, Policy Officer, Children & Young People’s Commissioner Scotland;
Maggie Murphy, Senior Curriculum Manager, Glasgow Kelvin College and representative of Colleges Scotland;
Judith Tait, Service Manager Strategic Scrutiny (Children and Justice), Care Inspectorate;
and then from—
Ben Farrugia, Head of Development & Innovation, Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland;
Donna McEwan, Practice Development Advisor, Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice;
Teresa Medhurst, Director of Strategy and Innovation, Scottish Prison Service.

CYPCS correctly clarifies human rights law and reminds committee of legal threshold under intense questioning from MSPs who have yet to grasp the Supreme Court judgment. Police Scotland admits to unlawful sharing of personal data using 2013 ‘guidance’ that lowered the non-consensual data processing threshold from significant harm to wellbeing.

NO2NP social media comment

Named person guidance could see children’s information ‘stockpiled’, police warn (Evening Express)

26 October 2017

Coverage of evidence session (Scotsman and the Mail)

27 October 2017

Scottish Government should revisit its approach to the Code of Practice for Named Persons information sharing proposals, says Holyrood committee

The Scottish Government should revisit its approach to the code of practice for ‘named persons’ information sharing, and consider providing the Parliament with a vote on the final version of the code, says Holyrood’s Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee.

The Committee’s recommendation, if implemented, would guarantee the Scottish Parliament an opportunity to scrutinise the code of practice and vote on it before it becomes law.

Commenting on the report published today by the DPLR Committee, Convener Graham Simpson MSP said:

“We explored the Code of Practice with the Deputy First Minister who viewed it as an explanatory document. Our Committee considers the Code to be more significant than that.

“It has a central role in the operation of the sharing of information about children and young people, and it places obligations upon professional people such as social workers, teachers and health care employees.

“Given its significance we welcome the opportunity provided in the Bill to comment on the draft code, but we recommend that the Government revisits its approach to the Code of Practice. Specifically, we want it to consider including the Code in subordinate legislation and, more importantly, giving the Parliament a vote on the final version.”

29 October 2017

Personal details of 815,000 ‘vulnerable’ Scots held on secret police databases (Sunday Express)

New figures obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation show that one in every seven citizens have been added to the register since it was introduced just over three years ago.

The total includes 131,000 children up to 11 years old (one in five) and 108,000 12 to 18 year olds (one in four). Police Scotland’s Vulnerable Person Database (VPD) was set up to collate information about adults and children who may be at risk from crime.

However, the Information Commissioner said it was in breach of the Data Protection Act because there was no policy for removing names and other details.

In September, BBC Scotland reported there were just over 412,000 people on the VPD but it has now emerged this only included “vulnerable” people.

01 November 2017

Education & Skills Committee meeting (video)

Evidence on Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill from —Sally Ann Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour;
Sheila Gordon, Director of Children and Family Services, Crossreach;
Maggie Mellon, No to Named Persons Campaign;
and then from—
Kirsten Hogg, Head of Policy, Barnardo’s Scotland;
Alison Reid, Principal Solicitor, Clan Childlaw;
Professor Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive, Families Outside;
Eileen Prior, Chief Executive, Scottish Parent Teacher Council.

CLAN Childlaw explained that the bill does not change the current legal framework for sharing information (which it could not as all Holyrood law and policy are subject to overarching data protection and human rights legislation). The problem remains, however, that the current legal framework was wrongly and unlawfully interpreted in 2013 ICO/GIRFEC guidance and cascaded to all public and third sector service providers, including taxi drivers.

Hostile questioning by the committee towards Maggie Mellon and Eileen Prior, while children’s charties (in receipt of public funding) were overrepresented and opinions overrated, given their past failures to apply the correct threshold for consent to data sharing and intervention.

Video clip (UK Column)

NO2NP comment

SNP urged to reform named person plan

04  November 2017

‘Named person’ minister resigns.

Scottish Government minister resigns over ‘inappropriate behaviour’ (Scotsman)

Mark McDonald has resigned as Nicola Sturgeon’s children’s minister after admitting inappropriate behaviour. The scandal over the conduct of UK politicians claimed its first Holyrood scalp when Mr McDonald released a statement admitting his behaviour may have made others uncomfortable. Mr McDonald,37, said he would remain as Aberdeen Donside MSP which he has served since the 2011 Scottish election.

05 November 2017

Scottish ministers are being urged to go back to the drawing board on controversial plans for a named person scheme, with some who previously backed the idea now saying that it is unworkable.

It comes a week after an all-party Holyrood committee urged the government to reconsider its legislation, which would appoint a state-sponsored guardian for every child in Scotland.

Scottish Tory education spokesman Liz Smith MSP said: “The debate is no longer whether the named person policy is a good or a bad thing in principle but whether it is workable or not. The overwhelming response from those who will be charged to be named persons is that it is not. No longer does it have the support as the best policy for helping…

06 November 2017

Media coverage of children’s minister’s resignation.

Fall of a Named Person (Scottish Review editorial, with reference to North Lanarkshire Council’s GIRFEC propaganda ‘wellbeing’ video to indoctrinate nursery children)

Sleaze shame SNP MSP Mark McDonald has gone into hiding and shut constituency office (The Sun, featuring decidedly dodgy grammar)

SNP close ranks around shamed minister Mark McDonald amid mysterious sexual harassment allegations (Daily Record)

07 November 2017 


(Page 16) Notes of two focus groups held at the parliament on 31 October for ‘chosen few’ participants (identities not disclosed) at public expense without public knowledge.

Participants included individuals from a range of relevant professional backgrounds including: charity employees that provide direct support to families children and young people (including youth workers, befrienders and an antenatal co-ordinator); social work representatives; child-minding representatives; day nursery representatives; health visitors; teachers; union representatives; child protection officers and young people including someone with experience of parental imprisonment.
Colin Beattie MSP chaired the evening and welcomed the participants. The participants were then divided into two groups for the focus group discussion. Colin Beattie MSP and Oliver Mundell MSP participated in Focus Group 1. Ross Greer MSP and Clare Haughey MSP attended Focus Group 2. James Dornan MSP had a previous engagement but was able to briefly attend both focus groups.
Throughout this note the nature of a participant’s role or perspective may be broadly referred to where the sector they work in or their background provide is relevant to their comments. Beyond that comments are not attributed to individual participants.
Hearing from those with direct practical experience is valuable in informing the Committee’s work*. The Committee would like to thank all those who took the time to contribute to the focus groups.

Those with experience of being on the receiving end of the policy were apparently excluded, but a Fringe event has been announced by Scottish Home Education Forum and Tymes Trust on 15 November to hear evidence from families.

(Page 26) Letter to education and skills committee from John Swinney seeking to save face by conceding code of practice will be scrutinised by parliament.

Scottish Government urged to reconsider approach to named person code of practice (Scotsman)

Charm offensive for ‘named person’ safety scheme (Times report includes a hint at a renewed smear campaign against opponents)

Teachers and social workers ‘not trained’ on Named Person scheme (Herald)

08 November 2017

Education and skills committee (video)

Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill Stage 1 Evidence from-
John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Ellen Birt, Bill Team Leader, and John Paterson, Divisional Solicitor, Scottish Government (but only Swinney spoke).

08 November 2017

New Scottish Education Council announced

“The first ever Scottish Education Council has been established to oversee work to improve education.
The council will be chaired by Deputy First Minister John Swinney and bring together young people, education leaders and representatives from local authorities and the teaching profession.
The council will be a forum for frank and open discussion about what is working in education and where improvement is required. It will provide advice and guidance and oversee progress implementing improvement priorities.”

From the membership list, it is a talking shop for the usual suspects (and two token young people) to deny that the rapid slide in Scottish school standards was caused by CfE.

11 November 2017

Ongoing campaign to hold school staff to account for physical restraint and seclusion of disabled children.

Cops blasted over probe of alleged abuse of kids at special school in Dundee

Furious parents say six of nine cases of children being attacked were ignored by officers, while photo and written evidence backing up injury claims was not passed to the Crown.

Fiscal Catriona Dalrymple has now taken control of the inquiry into Kingspark School in Dundee.

One parent, whose son came home from lessons badly bruised, hit out saying: “We waited for years, ooping for justice, then learned the police produced a three-page report.”

Families of disabled pupils said they suffered broken teeth, bruising and burst blood vessel damage while being retrained between 2010 and 2014.

Later picked up by Dundee Evening Telegraph: Prosecutors probe multiple claims of child abuse at Dundee school

14 November 2017

Legal costs of Named Person Scheme hit £480,000 (I News)

The bill for defending the state guardian scheme in the courts currently stands at £479,461, according to figures released following a Freedom of Information request.

14 November 2017

Parliamentary Answers on Police Scotland’s Vulnerable Persons Database (see entry for 29 October 2017)

Question S5W-12269: Liam McArthur, Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 31/10/2017
To ask the Scottish Government when the Police Scotland vulnerable person database will be compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998; what the lifespan is of the database; what will replace it, and what analysis it has carried of whether non-compliance carries any risk.

Answered by Michael Matheson (14/11/2017):
This is an operational matter for Police Scotland, under the oversight of the Scottish Police Authority. The Scottish Government understands that Police Scotland is currently developing its weeding and retention policy for the Vulnerable Persons Database, and is committed to ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Question S5W-12270: Liam McArthur, Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 31/10/2017
To ask the Scottish Government, in light of comments in The Sunday Express on 29 October 2017, what its response is to the report that  815,000 people have been recorded on Police Scotland’s vulnerable person database and the Information Commissioner stating that the database was in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Answered by Michael Matheson (14/11/2017):
I refer the member to the answer to question S5W-12269 on 14 November 2017.

15 November 2017

Postcards from the Fringe, Edinburgh

Fringe event for families snubbed by Holyrood (Press release)

Tymes Trust and the Scottish Home Education Forum are facilitating a fringe event in Edinburgh on Wednesday (15 November) to hear families’ own testimony on the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill, which is currently before the Education & Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

An advance call for ‘evidence on a postcard’ has attracted a stream of responses from parents keen to have their voices heard after being left unrepresented by MSPs during the passage of the 2014 Children and Young People (Scotland) Act. Scots families are all directly affected by the new bill, which the government hopes will remedy the defects of its original legislation, but have been excluded from Holyrood’s invitation-only evidence sessions and focus group discussions.

Following the session, supporters made their way to the Scottish Parliament to deliver their evidence to James Dornan MSP, convener of the education and skills committee.

Briefing document

Postcards of evidence

15 November 2017

Stop using the Adverse Childhood Experiences Checklist to make claims about trauma causing physical and mental health problems (Mind the Brain by Coyne of the Realm)

Scores on the adverse childhood experiences (ACE) checklist (or ACC) are widely used in making claims about the causal influence of childhood trauma on mental and physical health problems. Does anyone making these claims bother to look at how the checklist is put together and consider what a summary score might mean?

Are professionals misinterpreting the ACE checklist just careless or are they ideologues selectively identifying “evidence” for their positions which don’t depend on evidence at all?


16 November 2017

Mark McDonald suspended by SNP after ‘new information’ emerges (BBC)

A statement released by the party said: “Following new information being received by the SNP over the course of the last 24 hours relating to the behaviour of Mark McDonald, he has been suspended from both the parliamentary group and the party while further investigation takes place.

Sleaze row Nat Mark McDonald suspended from SNP as he faces SECOND complaint of inappropriate behaviour (Sun)

17 NOvember 2017

Glasgow children as young as 12 ‘being sold for sex’ (Scotsman)

Locals in the Govanhill area of Glasgow* told The Times newspaper of either being offered Roma children for sex or being approached outside bars by youngsters themselves. The paper said that in September 2015 Crosshill and Govanhill Community Council recorded in minutes that an “issue had been raised regarding child prostitution within Govanhill” and children were seen to be wandering the streets at night.

Olive Arens, chief executive of Up-2-Us, a charity that works with vulnerable teenagers, told the paper: “The sexual exploitation of Roma children in Govanhill is a long-standing issue and has been for 10 years or more.”**

* First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s own constituency

**  The Child Sex Scandal On The Streets Of Scotland (Herald report, 2007)

18 November 2017

Scottish Government ‘undermined expert evidence’ over Named Person (Scotland on Sunday)

Serious concerns have been raised about Government meetings held behind the back of the Education Committee scrutinising the named-person legislation.

Mundell’s suspicions were aroused when witnesses mentioned behind-the- scenes meetings taking place between the Government and various organisations to discuss redrafting the code. Evidence given to the committee at the end of October by Ben Farrugia of the Centre for Excellence for Looked after Children in Scotland said some organisations were “already involved in redrafting the code of practice”. Answers to a parliamentary question then revealed that since mid October the Scottish Government had met with a number of organisations. Mundell’s letter said this was before they gave oral evidence to the committee.

This month the committee received a letter signed by several children’s organisations urging MSPs to pass the bill at Stage One. The signatories say they are prepared to work with the government to produce a bill and code that can be supported by the children’s sector and the Scottish Parliament.

26 November 20

Fresh legal battle looms despite changes to named person scheme (Scotsman)

The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) group claims the revised legislation put forward by Holyrood ministers is still “vulnerable” to further court proceedings.

Threat of second legal challenge to Named Person scheme

Lawyers have written to Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC* warning him ministers could face a second courtroom battle over the legislation if they do not refer it to the Supreme Court.

The letter, from Balfour and Manson LLP, representing the Christian Institute, says: `In the event the Bill passes substantially in its current form and you decline to make a referral under section 33, our client reserves its position in relation to bringing a further challenge in the courts.’

It marks the latest step in a sustained campaign against Scottish Government plans to appoint a named person – a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor – to look out for the welfare of all children up to the age of 18.

Aidan O’Neill QC, said: ‘If the 2017 Bill becomes law in its current form, there are good prospects of another challenge successfully being taken to the courts against the 2014 Act (as amended) for failure to comply with the limits on legislative competence placed on the Scottish Parliament by the Scotland Act 1998.’

*  James Wolffe QC, then Dean of Faculty, was counsel for the Scottish Government in the Supreme Court appeal.

27 November 2017

29 November 2017

More delays for Scottish government’s named person plans (BBC)

The Scottish government’s controversial plan to bring a named person scheme into operation is facing more delays.

Holyrood’s education committee wants more assurance that information-sharing aspects of the policy comply with human rights law.

Changes to the legislation are now being considered but the latest development is likely to delay the process.

In his letter to the education secretary, Mr Dornan, an SNP MSP, said: “Based on the evidence heard to date, the majority of the committee do not consider that they are able to make a decision on whether to recommend that the general principles of the bill be approved at Stage 1 until the Scottish government has provided the committee with an authoritative draft of the code.

“By an authoritative draft, the committee means a draft that reflects changes in data protection law which will result from the passage of the UK Data Protection Bill and the subsequent Scottish government consultation on a draft code.”

Further excerpt from the letter hints at attempted influencing of witnesses by the government:

“As you are aware some members of the Committee have questioned whether the
Scottish Government sought to directly influence evidence to the Committee. In
order to ensure we can remain entirely focussed on scrutiny of this bill, the
Committee has asked if you could confirm that the Government’s discussions with
witnesses were limited to explaining the Scottish Government position, seeking
deeper understanding of the issues stakeholders were raising and where appropriate
discussing potential solutions.”

30 November 2017

Ian Welsh to head new panel to ensure named person policy is “workable”, says John Swinney

THE Scottish Government is to set up a panel to help persuade the public its named person policy is “workable”. Deputy First Minister John Swinney will name Ian Welsh as the chair of the new panel which will provide expert advice to clarify the data protection issues which saw the original policy rejected by the Supreme Court.

Mr Welsh, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland*, and fellow panel members who have yet to be announced, will be expected to develop new guidance for named persons and other practitioners and report back by the end of 2018.

“Even though this code of practice will now not be ready until the new panel concludes its deliberations towards the end of next year, the Herald understands the Scottish Government intends to press ahead with the bill.**

* Hardly independent , given the HSCA was responsible for a series of videos supporting GIRFEC, including this.

** This confirms that the committee lacks any meaningful role in scrutinising defective legislation.

 30 November 2017

John Swinney’s (very prompt) response to the education and skills committee misses the point that parliament holds government to account, not the other way round.

“By taking the decision to suspend Stage 1 of the Bill, and therefore not to express support
for the principles of the Bill, the Committee is casting doubt over the value of this process,
and significantly delaying the implementation of the legislation. I fear that this could
undermine stakeholder confidence in the principle of the Named Person approach, and
prolong the uncertainty many in the sector feel in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s
judgment of July 2016. This is to the detriment of implementing the wider principles of
Getting it right for every child – an approach to which I had thought everyone in the Chamber
subscribed. In my view it is imperative to continue to give practitioners the confidence that
they can continue to share information, in line with extant legislation, in the interests of
promoting the wellbeing of children. All interventions that undermine that confidence should
be made with great care, and in full appreciation of the potential consequences.
For these reasons, I regret the decision the majority of the Committee have made, and urge
the Committee to reconsider.
On the final matter you raise, the Government regularly discusses policy with all
stakeholders*, and will continue to do so in the interests of promoting better outcomes for
children and families.”

* except with those who disagree and it has been claimed that pressure has been put on witnesses to support the government’s position

30 November 2017 admits Investigatory Powers Act illegal under EU law

Police forces will no longer be able to grant themselves access to surveillance data if new government proposals to the Snooper’s Charter are accepted.

But in a landmark ruling in a case brought by deputy Labour leader Tom Watson last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union deemed indiscriminate data retention illegal.

The court said that access to retained data must only be granted for cases of serious crime, and that authorisation should come from an independent body, not the police or public bodies.

(Tom) Watson was … underwhelmed, saying that although the Home Office was making “significant concessions” he would be pushing for greater protections for privacy, as the proposals are “still flawed”.

“Ministers aren’t above the law – they don’t get to pick and choose which rights violations they address and they can’t haggle with the courts to avoid properly protecting people’s freedom. All of the fundamental safeguards demanded by the court must now be implemented.”

01 December 2017

Scottish ministers accused of lobbying witnesses (Times)

6 December 2017

Official call for abandonment of information sharing bill and a public inquiry

Letter sent on behalf of ‘Families from the Fringe’ to James Dornan MSP, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee.

6 December 2017


The bill has effectively been kicked into the long grass, thanks mainly to the sole Green MSP.

The Committee considered a letter dated 30th November 2017 from
the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the Committee’s approach to
its Stage 1 report. George Adam proposed that the Committee should produce a Stage 1 report at this stage of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill. The proposal was disagreed to by division: For 5 (George Adam, James Dornan, Richard Lochhead, Ruth Maguire, Gillian Martin); Against 6 (Ross Greer, Daniel Johnson, Johann Lamont, Oliver Mundell, Tavish Scott, Liz Smith); Abstentions 0.

Oliver Mundell proposed that the Committee should extend the period of Stage 1 scrutiny to provide the Committee with the opportunity to scrutinise a draft Code of Practice alongside the Bill. The proposal was agreed to: For 6 (Ross Greer, Daniel Johnson, Johann Lamont, Oliver Mundell, Tavish Scott, Liz Smith); Against 5 (George Adam, James Dornan, Richard Lochhead, Ruth
Maguire, Gillian Martin); Abstentions 0.

The Committee therefore agreed to seek an extension from the Parliamentary Bureau at Stage 1. The Committee agreed to write to the Presiding Officer in his capacity as Chair of the Bureau and to provide its letter to the Cabinet Secretary dated 29th November as context for its request. The Committee also agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary highlighting that the reason for the decision to extend Stage 1 is to ensure that the Committee can undertake informed scrutiny of the legislation.

MSPs vote to stall named person bill consideration (BBC, erroneously using welfare rather than wellbeing)

7 December 2017

SNP’s Named Person scheme on brink of collapse (Scotsman)

MSPs have never voted on a bill at stage one without a committee report backing the general principles of the legislation, so the MSPs’ decision will cause a significant delay. The committee’s stance ignited a row with Education Secretary John Swinney, who has said a code of practice for the Named Person Scheme could not be produced until September next year “at the earliest”. Some members argued that without one, it was impossible for teachers and others responsible for the scheme to know what their legal responsibilities might be.

SNP’s state snooper timetable in tatters: Named Person scheme could be stalled until 2019 (Express)

Deputy First Minister John Swinney’s bid to salvage the Named Person scheme tonight lay in tatters following a knife-edge education committee vote.

A majority of MSPs on the committee are furious the Scottish Government has not published a detailed code of practice setting out the rules and guidance around the role of teachers and health visitors who will act as Named Persons.

Mr Swinney has previously said this could not be produced until September 2018 “at the earliest” while the committee argues it should reflect changes in data protection law being made by the UK Government next April or May.

Parliamentary rules mean the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill cannot proceed until the education committee report has been completed.

7 December 2017

Is the third sector becoming an arm of the state? (Lesley Scott in Third Force News)

So bad is this authoritarian and dogmatic culture that GIRFEC and named persons has generated, families are now shunning the very state agencies this legislation was meant to direct them towards for any help and support they need. The evidence from families shows that instead they are forming their own support networks through existing parents groups or even setting up new ones, thereby subverting this dangerous legislation.

The acceptance and support of GIRFEC and named person legislation by a great many in the third sector (in direct conflict with the views of many parents and families) requires them to gather and share with state agencies information on families, which has led to breaches in data law during the embedding of this legislation into practice before it even became law. Evidence submitted to the education and skills committee over the named person legislation illustrated very clearly that this has been happening over a period of years perpetrated by many organisations in both the public and third sector.

Should the named person be scrapped? (Third Force News poll)

13 December 2017

MSPs agree to shelve Named Person plans (Scotsman)

The Scottish Government’s controversial scheme to appoint a named person to every child in Scotland was last night dealt a further blow when MSPs formally agreed to park the legislation. MSPs unanimously agreed a Holyrood business motion annulling a crucial deadline for the legislation’s passage through the Scottish Parliament.

No new deadline has been established. A report has to be produced in order for the legislation to go on to the floor of the house for stage 2.

13 December 2017 told: Your frantic farming of pupils’ data is getting a little creepy (The Register)

Plans to expand the vast National Pupil Database to include information on why kids leave mainstream education have been slammed by privacy campaigners.

But campaigners have raised the alarm over the highly personal nature of the data, saying it will leave children labelled for life because it will be linked to other identifiable data in the National Pupil Database – and kept indefinitely.

Jen Persson, co-ordinator at privacy group Defend Digital Me, is a long-time campaigner against the extent of this data collection, which now covers some 23 million people, many of whom are now adults.

In addition to question marks over the extent of the database’s coverage, she is concerned about the way that data is shared with other departments and third parties.

letter (PDF) to education secretary Justine Greening, signed by Defend Digital Me and 19 other organisations and academics, calls on the government to curb its data slurping and sharing, especially given the sensitive nature of the information required in the new AP census.

14 December 2017

Response from James Dornan MSP [download] convener of the education and skills committee, to NP-Fringe’s letter (see above) with reference to the briefing, postcards of evidence and call for a public inquiry into past and current illegal policy and practice under GIRFEC.

Firstly it was very nice to meet with you and others a few weeks ago, thank you for taking the time after a long day at your event to meet me and present the evidence you have gathered.

The Committee has considered your submissions, including all the postcards, in a formal Committee meeting and has now published your submissions online.

After consideration of the evidence that the committee heard and received in writing the committee has decided that no further work on the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill will be undertaken until towards the end of next year to enable the Committee to scrutinise the Code of Practice that would accompany the bill. Please find attached a letter sent to the Cabinet Secretary for Education on the 7th December detailing the Committees considerations at this point.

In relation to your request for a public inquiry, please note that the Committee has not given specific consideration to the issue you raise. The Committee has specifically focused on the proposed changes in the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill, not existing data sharing provisions (which are soon subject to change under GDPR). The Committee has considered what the changes proposed in the Bill would bring to the current practice, including its effects on children, families and practitioners such as health visitors and teachers. Accordingly the Committee cannot comment on the request for an inquiry as it does not have a collective position on this matter.

Please note that this does not preclude individual members responding to your letter but they would need to respond to you direct in an individual capacity. You can find the contact details for individual MSPs on the Parliament website at and the details of the members of the Education and Skills Committee can be found on…/education-committee…

Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me or the Clerk to the Committee.

23 December 2017

John Swinney’s Named Person supervisor comes under fire (Scotsman)

Campaigners against the plans to give every Scottish child a Named Person to keep an eye on their welfare* are objecting to the Education Secretary’s appointment of Ian Welsh as chair of a panel set up to turn round the beleaguered legislation. They question how he can be seen as independent, given that he works for an organisation that receives millions of pounds in funding from the Scottish Government. Welsh is the chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, which received more than £9 million in Scottish Government grants.

*  should read ‘wellbeing’, not ‘welfare’