Plans progress on the Named Person Service

On 28 July, the Supreme Court handed down judgement on a case against Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which was scheduled for commencement on 31 August 2016. This part of the act relates to the provision of a Named Person for every child in Scotland and the sharing of information about children, young people and families.

The judgement stated that the overall aim of the Act - to promote and safeguard the wellbeing of children and young people - is 'unquestionably legitimate and benign', and that Part 4 of the Act is 'rationally connected to the legitimate aims pursued'.

2016 Judgement on the Act
The legal challenge to the Act had three parts, and the judgement on each is as follows:

  1. The Supreme Court found that the provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, requiring the appointment of a named person to every child and young person in Scotland (other than those serving in the UK Armed Forces), are compatible with (a) fundamental common law rights and (b) the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
  2. The Supreme Court found that the provisions of the 2014 Act concerning information sharing and disclosure of information associated with the exercise of the named person functions are not, at present, compatible with EU Law. It found that the provisions relating to the sharing of information about children, young people and families without their consent was not compatible with Article 8 of the ECHR, which concerns a right to private and family life.
  3. The Supreme Court found that the provisions of the 2014 Act concerning information sharing and disclosure of information associated with the exercise of the named person functions are not a reserved matter and therefore do not relate to matters reserved to the Westminster Parliament under the Scotland Act 1998.

The Scottish Government has already pledged to make the necessary legislative amendments to provide clarity around the information-sharing provisions and has begun talks with key public sector leaders and charities to ensure the successful introduction of the named person service. What this means for the timescale of implementation is also being assessed.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP said:
'Through our widely-supported approach to early intervention and getting it right for every child, developed over the last decade, and through the named person service specifically, we aim to place the needs of children at the heart of public services. It is vital that we take all effective steps to support the wellbeing of our children in Scotland. I look forward to working with our stakeholders so we can roll out this vital service across Scotland at the earliest possible date'.

It is important to note that the Supreme Court judgement relates only to the information sharing provisions intended to come into force under the 2014 Act and not to current practice under GIRFEC policy. Public authorities are asked to continue to share information appropriately and in accordance with the requirements of relevant legislation, such as the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act, when providing services to children and families.

Further information
To find out more about the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, read the latest information and news on the Scottish Government website (external link).

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) website also hosts useful information on upholding information rights in the public interest. Read the ICO's latest statement on their Named Person Scheme (external link).

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