Scots charities fear loss of client trust

Child protection work delivered by voluntary organisations in Scotland could be severely undermined if they are forced to share sensitive client information with inspectors, a charity has warned.

The Joint Inspection of Children’s Services and Inspection of Social Work Services (Scotland) Bill would allow inspectors to gain access to sensitive information held by social care, health and education organisations, without gaining client consent, for the purpose of checking quality.

But Children 1st says the bill would damage the trust many vulnerable children have in voluntary groups working with them if it is applied to the sector as currently proposed. Its concerns echo those raised by doctors (news, 1 December 2005).

While it supports inspectors being given such powers when there are child protection concerns, Children 1st says this should not be allowed for carrying out improvement audits.

It argues that children often reveal personal information to voluntary groups because of the independence and confidentiality they offer.

It has asked the Scottish executive to clarify whether measures in the bill will apply to the voluntary sector because many charities now deliver child protection services on behalf of councils.

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