Named person guidance could see children’s information ‘stockpiled’, police warn

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Guidance aimed at helping professionals implement the Scottish Government’s controversial named person scheme could see information on children being “stockpiled”, Police Scotland has warned.

Holyrood’s Education Committee heard that “too much weighting” on obtaining consent to share information could result in officers not getting it to the “right people at the right time”.

The force is one of a number of organisations that will be required to consider whether to share information with named persons which could support, promote or safeguard the wellbeing of a child.

In doing so, they must follow a code of practice.

However Detective Chief Inspector Norman Conway told the committee there were concerns over how the illustrative draft of the code has been set out.

He said police officers can, on occasion, use alternative legal ways to justify the sharing of child wellbeing concerns, which are consistent with named person legislation, yet potentially inconsistent with “the overemphasis on consent” in the code.

DCI Conway added: “We felt that the code of practice in its current illustrative draft had too much weighting on consent, and actually there was other legal basis for police and partners to share information, and we actually do that successfully just now.

“I think there are dangers in going for an exclusively consent-based model.

“I think that will cause real difficulties for police and probably other emergency services.”

He said part of officers’ training would always involve seeking the views of children and young people, but the code in its current form could ” see child concerns being stockpiled, and actually us not getting the right information to the right people at the right time”.

The government’s plans to introduce a named person for youngsters would see professionals such as teachers or health visitors act as a single point of contact to advise on the welfare of a child.

Ministers have brought forward new legislation aimed at addressing concerns from the Supreme Court over information-sharing provisions in the scheme.

One of the main changes put forward in the new Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill is that a duty to share information would become a duty to consider whether to share information.

Police Scotland is one of a number of organisations to raise concerns over the accompanying draft code of practice, aimed at helping named persons and other authorities make decisions on data sharing.