SNP's attempt to legalise state snooping on families is 'doomed to disaster'


Sunday Express, 6 August 2017: SNP's attempt to legalise state snooping on families is 'doomed to disaster'

THE SNP's latest attempt to legalise state snooping on families is "doomed to disaster", according to a leading human rights lawyer.
Allan Norman said: "We have new draft legislation that says, roughly, that officials should share information, provided it is consistent with human rights and data protection laws to do so. True. But I'm afraid that simply shifts the risk to the officials who have to work out what the law means.

"That is grossly irresponsible, and doomed to disaster, if those officials – and the Scottish Parliament – are looking to exactly the same people as didn't appreciate in the first place that they were getting it wrong, and think that the Supreme Court ruling narrowly applies only to the previous draft legislation.

"Officials who think that that guidance, or their existing practice, is compliant are not only wrong, but are being misled by people who ought to know better."

Following sweeping reforms without consultation by the Scottish Government in 2013, data sharing is currently sanctioned on the basis of any ‘wellbeing’ concern.

This guidance replaced the legal threshold of ‘risk of significant harm’ to a child as the trigger for sharing confidential information about families.
Mr Norman said the promotion of the wellbeing of children and young people was not one of the aims listed under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He added: "It therefore cannot be assumed to be necessary to share information on this basis, and if it is not necessary, consent is, in fact, required. Unless everything else built on that guidance, including organisations' internal policies, and a professional culture of sharing without consent, are reversed, practice will still be unlawful."