Scotland drops data sharing measures

Measures to improve information sharing among professionals and broaden checks on volunteers working with vulnerable people have been scrapped by the Scottish executive.

The plans, included in the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Bill, were dropped after the Scottish parliament’s education committee and a broad range of children’s and voluntary groups warned they were unworkable.

The bill required all professionals working with vulnerable children or adults to pass on information to other agencies if clients were deemed to be at risk. However, critics said the bill lacked detail on what risk meant and had not adequately addressed confidentiality issues.

Last week, education minister Hugh Henry withdrew that part of the bill. But the measure could be resurrected under future changes to the children’s hearing system.

Henry also watered down checks on volunteers so that they will apply only to new entries, and pledged to consult further before extending it to existing ones. Voluntary groups had warned it could discourage people from becoming volunteers.

Scotland’s children’s commissioner Kathleen Marshall said, although the information sharing provisions of the bill were well-intended, “the unintended consequences for young people could have been very far-reaching”.

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