The Scottish police force broke the law by sharing sensitive information on children under the controversial Named Person scheme, campaigners say.
No to Named Persons (NO2NP) says the police admitted to “routinely disclosing” sensitive information on families for a period of three years in front of MSPs yesterday.
The group has called for the police and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to be held to account for violating the human rights of families.
At a Holyrood evidence session, Detective Chief Inspector Norman Conway told MSPs the police felt “on good grounds” to share private data at the low threshold of ‘wellbeing’, specified in the named person plans.
He pointed to ICO guidance, issued in 2013, which states that the Data Protection Act “should not be viewed as a barrier to sharing personal data” where there are wellbeing concerns.
However, Conway added that the police has “tightened up” its information-sharing procedures following a UK Supreme Court ruling on the named person legislation.
In July 2016, judges struck down central data-sharing provisions as incompatible with human rights laws after a legal challenge by The Christian Institute and others.
NO2NP says Conway’s comments amount to an admission of law breaking over a period of three years.
Spokesman for the group Simon Calvert said, “it’s now been publicly confirmed for the first time that for three years the police – and possibly other organisations who relied on the ICO advice – were routinely disclosing the private and confidential information of children and families in an outrageous invasion of privacy and human rights.
“This was all happening before the scheme was fully implemented. Imagine what would have awaited families if the Supreme Court had not come to their defence?”
NO2NP is calling for an investigation into the police, the ICO and other groups who unlawfully shared data.
Over the last few weeks, Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee has been hearing evidence from numerous groups on the named person legislation.
At the start of the month, MSPs heard that the plan creates an “impossible” burden for teachers.
Legal experts have also warned that the scheme is so complicated, practitioners “will need their lawyer on speed dial”.
The Scottish Government is attempting to revise its Named Person scheme after the Supreme Court judgment but it faces calls to axe the plans altogether. To find out more, visit our dedicated Named Person scheme page.