Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Right Decision

I think the Supreme Court has got it right by saying that parts of the Scottish ‘named person’ scheme are contrary to the right to privacy and family life.

The named person scheme looks far too much like that other information sharing initiative, ContactPoint, for my liking.
The fundamental flaw in such schemes is that they assume that just because information was not shared in a particular tragic case, ensuring that similar information is available to a wide range of professionals and officials routinely will avoid a similar tragedy in the future. That is just ‘hindsight bias’ – seeing a past event as having been predictable, despite there being little or no objective basis for predicting it.

And there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that information sharing (particularly on an industrial scale) in itself protects children. Just because a ‘fact’ is written down in a file or a database field, doesn’t mean that it is appreciated, understood and acted upon. Indeed, not being able to see the wood for the trees is a major problem when everybody is told everything.

Far better, in my view, to look at problems of communication in child protection. Why is it that some important messages are not sent or not received or not understood? We don’t need national policies to start tackling those issues and the impact on making children safer would be much greater than having a free for all with sharing sensitive information.