‘Unlawful’ police database with info on 950,000+ Scots linked to named person

In the clamour of news around Brexit this weekend, you may have missed an important headline.

The Sunday Express reports that the details of almost one million Scots are being held on a police database, reportedly set up “to comply with” (surprise surprise) the Named Person scheme.

The interim Vulnerable Person’s Database (iVPD), which “records information about individuals who are, or are perceived to be experiencing adverse circumstances or situational vulnerabilities which may impact on their current or future wellbeing”, was found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act last year.

At this time, Police Scotland were told to remove 250,000 people from it. But instead of removing details, a freedom of information request reveals that the police have added a further 162,520 names. This brings the total to 968,791 people.

This number is staggering in itself, amounting to almost one fifth of Scotland’s population. It’s unclear how many individuals have been added through the Named Person scheme.

However, the most sinister aspect of the story has to be the way the data was gathered. Most of the people on the database don’t know they’re on it, and have not given permission for their information to be held.

The Express notes that there is “no similar database anywhere else in the UK”. And this raises a question as to why police in Scotland feel able to hold private data on close to a million people, largely without consent?

Perhaps it’s because no other Government in the UK has sought to implement something as Orwellian as the Named Person scheme.

By its very nature, the scheme begets a mistrust in the public. It turns all parents into potential abusers, all children into potential victims, and puts an obligation on professionals to treat them as such.

You can see how this thinking might infect the police and foster a culture of unacceptable data-gathering.

Police Scotland has promised to commence “weeding” of the database in January next year, once work on a “technical solution” is complete.

But weeds have a nasty habit of growing back. You’ve got to make sure you get down to the root.

If we are to end this saga of unlawful data gathering, we must strike at its source. It’s time for the Government to uproot the Named Person scheme.