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Sturgeon told to scrap named person and start again

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to drop her named person scheme and come up with new plans to protect vulnerable children.

It follows a series of legal experts demolishing the SNP’s changes to the proposal after the Supreme Court ruled elements of it unlawful last year.

At First Minister’s Questions today, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said while the protection of young people should be paramount, the Scottish Government had to come up with plans that were legally robust.

During yesterday’s education committee, legal experts said teachers – when they become named persons – would need lawyers “on speed dial”.

Practitioners responsible for delivering the policy would be “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” in relation to sharing information about a young person, Ruth added today.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“It’s clear that the confidence the First Minister appears to have in this scheme isn’t shared by those who’ll be responsible for implementing it.

“The named person policy was ruled unlawful by the highest court in the land, and the SNP’s remedy to that appears to be deeply flawed.

“The Scottish Government has now been well-warned by experts that these changes will push teachers and health workers into a legal minefield.

“When it comes to the sharing of information, they’ll be damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

“It’s time to start again with a blank sheet of paper.

“We all want to protect vulnerable children, but it has to be done within the law.”


Notes to editors:

Below is a summary of submissions to yesterday’s education committee on the SNP’s named person revisions:

The Faculty of Advocates state that: “some of the criticisms of the Supreme Court will continue to apply if the bill as drafted is passed”
The Children’s Commissioner states that: “The Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill is intended to address the technical deficiencies in the CYP Act relating to information sharing by amending the Act to ensure it is compliant with the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 and with the ECHR. The bill as currently drafted does not achieve this.”
Professor Elaine Sutherland, Professor of Child and Family Law at the Law School, University of Stirling said: “The two main concerns highlighted by the Court were the lack of clarity in terms of implementing the information-sharing provisions and the lack of safeguards for those whose information might be shared. Regrettably, the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill does not address either concern adequately.”

The Faculty of Advocates state: “The draft Code itself illustrates the complexity of the issues to be faced, and dealt with by busy professionals focused on other aspects of provision for children. A professional considering information sharing is required to carry out a proportionality exercise. This is identified by the Supreme Court, who were particularly concerned that any person considering sharing information should consider: “… 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 (i.e. 3 whether the impact of the rights infringement is disproportionate to the likely benefit of the impugned measure).” We remain concerned that this is an exceptionally difficult requirement to impose on professionals in respect of every child in Scotland. Its imposition risks making their job considerably more difficult and undermining the trust of families and the willingness to share information with the professionals concerned.”
Royal College of Nursing: “RCN Scotland does not support the national implementation of the Named Person service until the right resources to ensure that the service works for children and young people, their families, and the professionals responsible for its delivery, are in place across Scotland.”

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