Wednesday, 14 August 2013

GIRFEC Data Collection

According to Scottish Ministers they will further the rights of children as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and prepare reports to describe this activity. As a signatory to the UNCRC the Scottish Government  is obliged to provide extensive child-specific data in their reports and include data on children`s civil rights, survival, welfare and development.  In addition this data should be made public and should inform policy and planning.  An important tool for processing the data are wellbeing measures.

So it can be seen that none of the ideas in the Children and Young People Bill  built on Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) were dreamt up by the Scottish Government in partnership with their stakeholders. The collaboratives were merely the means to achieve the United Nations agenda. Of course this raises serious issues about democracy and national sovereignty which were never discussed.

Then there is the thorny problem of how to keep the shared data secure.  We know that a Freedom of Information request in 2012 revealed that personal data had been lost in the Highland Council, West Lothian, East Lothian and Aberdeenshire Council.  There was a record of 10,000 pieces of information lost during the previous five years although some authorities could not even provide information about their lost data. Scottish Councils were asked to review their data storage procedures. HERE  

Unfortunately from the BBC website 13 August 2013 we now have this:
Aberdeen City Council has launched an investigation after social work files were found in a skip in Dundee. It is not known how the papers - which related to a single social work case - came to be there. It is understood the documents included child protection review paperwork. A spokesman for the local authority said "Aberdeen City Council takes any breach of confidentiality very seriously and we are investigating this matter."

It seems no matter how seriously some councils take breaches of confidentiality, data is still lost.  Can we really feel confident that local authorities, who must collect and share more data under GIRFEC, are going to make their systems secure? I don`t think so. For many reasons, including the security issue, it is time to re-think GIRFEC and the surveillance society.

From the Scottish Review

GIRFEC has been marketed to compliant journalists – and, more generally, to the unsuspecting public – as a benevolent information-sharing project, enabling social work and education professionals, the police, doctors and health workers to co-operate more closely in identifying children at risk. Parroting the mantra 'early intervention' and invoking one or two notorious cases, GIRFEC's promoters assure us that the project is 'cutting bureaucracy' and 'achieving results'. These assurances have been swallowed whole without proper scrutiny of the claims or, more generally, of the underlying agenda.

For reasons known only to the Scottish government and its partners, we have not been told the whole truth about GIRFEC: that, although it is ostensibly a child protection scheme concerned to help a tiny minority, it is actually the basis for the eventual profiling and surveillance of every child in Scotland.


From the Scottish Government

To ensure that children’s rights properly influence the design and delivery of policies and services, the Bill will:
  • Place a duty on the Scottish Ministers to keep under consideration and take steps to further the rights of children and young people, to promote and raise awareness and understanding of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and to prepare reports describing this activity;
  • Place a duty on the wider public sector to report on what they are doing to take forward realisation of the rights set out in the UNCRC; and
  • Extend the powers of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, so that this office will be able to undertake investigations in relation to individual children and young people.

Obligations of signatories  [from]  Wikiprogress

Convention on the Rights of the Child

"The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services. By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention (by ratifying or acceding to it), national governments have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights and they have agreed to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. States parties to the Convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child."

"States are obliged to provide extensive child-specific data in their periodic reports including:• Data disaggregated by age, gender, ethnic and social origin, place of residence, family status and special groups; • Data on the state of children's civil rights, children's survival, welfare and development; • Qualitative and quantitative data, involving the consultation with children as to how information about their lives can best be collected and used; • Data that is accessible to all those concerned with the well-being of children. Data should be made available to the public and should be presented to governmental bodies on a regular basis to inform planning and policy-making Child well-being measures are also commonly employed tools for assessing the fulfilment of the rights set out in the Convention. "


  1. Excellent post, thank you :)

    Have posted it on is forum thread where the latest developments can be found.

  2. I understand that the Home Education lobby are working hard with this issue and wish them well.

  3. Scottish Ministers will help clarify the circumstances under which information about the risks to the wellbeing of a child or young person can be shared.