The Named Person scheme
The Named Person is a role introduced by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 to help make sure children and young people can get help when they need it.
A Named Person will exist for:
- all children and young people from 0 to 18, and
- young people above 18 who are still in school.
Helping with wellbeing
The Named Person scheme can help support children and young people when there are concerns about their wellbeing. The purpose isn’t to deal with high-level child protection concerns. Rather, the Named Person will exist to intervene promptly and at an early stage— tackling issues before they become serious enough to involve child protection services.
Who are Named Persons?
In some ways, the Named Person scheme is just putting what already happens in Scotland into law. Many of the people who will become Named Persons will:
- already be well-known to the children and young people they support, and
- already play a role in ensuring the wellbeing of the children and young people they support.
- children at pre-school will usually have their Health Visitor as their Named Person, and
- children and young people at school will have their Head Teacher or Guidance Teacher as their Named Person.
Named Person links
This article from the BBC provides an overview of what the Named Person scheme is and explains the views of the scheme’s supporters and opponents.
The Scottish Government’s official page for the Named Person scheme.
Links on Supreme Court ruling
On 28 July 2016, the UK Supreme Court issued a ruling around the legality of the Named Person scheme, which is part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
Download the UK Supreme Court’s press summary of its judgment.
Download the full text of the Supreme Court’s judgment around the Named Person scheme.
Read our summary of the UK Supreme Court’s judgment.
Access the Scottish Parliament's summary of the judgment.
View of the Commissioner’s office
The Commissioner's office supports the principle of the Named Person scheme and its implementation through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
However, we have some concerns about the way information could be shared under the scheme.
Right now, professionals usually can’t share private information about a child or young person. They're only able to do so if they believe that person is at risk of significant harm.
The Named Person scheme, however, also lets professionals share this information if they're worried about a child or young person’s wellbeing.
Children and young people have the right to privacy, and there's a risk that this lowered threshold will lead to this being violated. However, parental consent will be needed for information sharing in most cases. Additionally, information about a child or young person can only be shared if doing so is:
- appropriate, and
In the Commissioner's office, we think it’s important that children and young people feel able to access confidential services. When they do, they shouldn't have to worry that what they say won’t be kept private.
We don’t want those worries to stop young people seeking the help they need. Because of this, we hope the right balance is struck where the right to privacy is concerned.
A need for resources
The Commissioner's office also thinks that the Named Person scheme may have problems with resourcing at first. Named Persons may be taking on new responsibilities, and so may need additional training or help with capacity building. As the Named Person scheme represents additional work for these people, there may also be some issues around their work capacity.
At Highland Council, the introduction of the Named Person has resulted in fewer referrals to the reporter, as these issues have gone directly to the Named Person.
Furthermore, the scheme has shown that it does not ultimately divert resources away from children in need and has reduced the caseloads of social workers, allowing them to support those children who really need them.