28 July 2016

UK Supreme Court rules on 'named person'

In its ruling the UK Supreme Court has concluded that:

  • The principle of every child in Scotland having a Named Person, appointed by the state, does not breach a child or family's human rights. Nor is it incompatible with EU law.
  • The legislation does not relate to matters reserved to the UK Government, as some petitioners' had argued, and therefore the Scottish Parliament is within its prerogative to introduce the Named Person service.
  • The Scottish Government should change the information sharing provisions relating to the Named Person service, to ensure they are compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which provides a right to respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence).

Despite news reports to the contrary, taken together this ruling means the Supreme Court Judges have given an amber light to the roll-out and implementation of Scotland's Named Person policy, its implementation now contingent on important changes being made to how information about children can be shared between professionals. Those changes – which the Scottish Government has now committed to making – are likely to have significant consequences for how the Named Person works in practice, but they do not represent an end to the policy.

At CELCIS, we are pleased that a long-period of speculation and debate has now come to an end, and we welcome the Judges' conclusions on the need for children's personal information to be shared proportionately. Today's ruling should mean that Scotland can now turn its attention to working out how to make the Named Person service work in practice, as part of an approach that ensures every child and family gets the right support at the right time. Few disagree with this policy objective, and our hope is that now all our efforts will be focused on making this aim a reality.