Evidence is stacking up against the Named Person scheme

Yesterday Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee had its sixth evidence session on the Named Person information sharing Bill.

And it’s not looking good for the Scottish Government.

The proposals have not only been criticised by lawyers, health professionals, teachers and data-sharing experts, but even MSPs have had enough.

MSPs on the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee were not satisfied with the answers they got from John Swinney in September. The committee has now recommended that the Scottish Government “revisits its approach to the Code of Practice”, which is central to Named Person practice on the ground.

NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert commented: “This is a real rebuke for John Swinney. Hidden beneath the bland wording of a Parliamentary press release is the anger of a committee of MSPs denied the opportunity to exercise their constitutional and democratic duty … on behalf of the families of the country they represent.”

Maggie Mellon, giving evidence on behalf of the NO2NP campaign yesterday, told the Education and Skills Committee: “The problem we need to address is: is this about parents or telling people what’s good for them and acting in a way we all think is good for them, rather than listening to what they want?”

She raised concern that there was still a lack of definition for “wellbeing” and commented: “Asking for compulsory intervention on basis of subjective indicators and requiring professionals to interfere is not helpful”.

She asserted: “Are we going to get it right this time?”

Last week DCI Norman Conway, representing Police Scotland, appeared to admit to the Education and Skills Committee that the police had been involved in years of unlawful data sharing. He blamed the ICO guidance from 2013 and said, “we started to believe we were in good grounds to actually actively share wellbeing information regarding children”.

DCI Conway told MSPs: “And actually what’s happened following the Supreme Court judgment is that we have really tightened up in terms of individual rights, we’ve really tightened up in terms of the information that’s being shared”.

Commenting on the news, NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert said: “It’s now been publicly confirmed for the first time that for three years the police – and possibly other organisations who relied on the ICO advice – were routinely disclosing the private and confidential information of children and families in an outrageous invasion of privacy and human rights.

“This was all happening before the scheme was fully implemented. Imagine what would have awaited families if the Supreme Court had not come to their defence?”

The evidence is stacking up against the Named Person scheme. When will the Scottish Government will admit it got it wrong for Scottish families and drop these intrusive plans?

NO2NP ACTION DAY: FORT WILLIAM

The lauded Highland Pathfinder pilot of the Scottish Government’s controversial Named Person scheme has been the subject of much criticism in recent days within the Highland region itself, so it was going to be interesting to see what those who live and work in the region’s second largest settlement thought about it.

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Almost immediately, the team found people who worked in the public sector – teachers, social workers, care workers – who were all against the scheme, described this week by the region’s Deputy Council leader as “intrusive nonsense”. The team were given similar responses by the general public, with one man describing it as “sinister” and another saying: “They’ve got to decide whether they’re going to let parents be parents”.

One couple had decided to move from the city to the beautiful Highland town because they wanted to raise their children in the peace and quiet of a rural community. But they were very much against the idea of their children having a state guardian, who would constantly be scrutinising their parenting skills and noting down any failings.

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One lady took a bunch of flyers to distribute around her own rural community which was great! If you’d like to help get the message out in your community, please get in touch with us at volunteers@no2np.org

The team will be joined by some locals in Stornoway town centre this Saturday afternoon. If you live in Lewis, come and join them.

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NO2NP ACTION DAY: PETERHEAD

The weather was a bit ‘dreich’ on Saturday morning in Peterhead, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the volunteers who turned up to hand out flyers in the town centre. Thanks to all of them for coming along!

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As with other parts of the country, the team found that many people are still completely unaware of the scheme. That just goes to show how important these Action Days are!

Time and time again, people could not believe that, come 31st August, every single child and young person in Scotland will have a state-appointed ‘Named Person’ responsible for their wellbeing. Reactions like “You’ve GOT to be joking!” were common, while one gentleman said: “My grandchildren have got parents, two sets of grandparents and aunts and uncles – there’s absolutely no need for a Named Person!” We think so too.

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An entire family were happy to be photographed. Auntie had already signed the petition, but Mum, Dad and Gran were all happy to sign there and then. Thanks for your support folks!

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A number of locals expressed their appreciation for what we were doing, for which the team were very grateful.

The NO2NP team are heading to the other side of the country this week, where they will host a roadshow event in Fort William on Thursday afternoon, with an Action Day in the town centre on Friday morning. If you live in the area, please come to one or both these events!

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NO2NP ACTION DAY: CRIEFF

Following the successful roadshow event in the town last week, a team of local NO2NP-ers were out on Saturday morning to let people know about the dangers of the Named Person scheme.

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Before the team had even set out, they encountered people around them who were opposed to the intrusive scheme. A GP who was visiting the town with her family, told them that when she tried to refer one of her child patients to CAMHS, she was told there had to be a case conference meeting with the Named Person first. Inevitably this delayed help for the child and usurped the GP’s professional judgment.

Out on the streets the team discovered that many people were unaware of the Government’s universal state guardian scheme for all children and young people under 18. There were some memorable quotes:-

“They’re doing away with the need for parents at all – it’s like Brave New World!”

“This won’t make things any better – they need to be focussing on the vulnerable children instead.”

“It’s just not right. People need to fight this.”

“Come on, how are teachers going to find the time to do this when they are off with stress and our kids are taught by supply teachers half the time?”

One man came out of work especially to sign the petition, while others regularly approached the team for flyers.

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Several people signed the petition – in fact, only one person all day appeared to be in favour of the scheme and even he agreed it shouldn’t be compulsory.

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So the message was clear: Crieff says “No to Named Persons!”

Our next Action Day is in Peterhead this Saturday, 11 June. If you live in the area, why not join us? If you’d like to do so or if you’d like to help the campaign generally, get in touch with us at volunteers@no2np.org.

New 2016 Roadshows: Greenock ● Falkirk ● Dunfermline

We’re pleased to announce new NO2NP Roadshows for 2016.  Our teams of speakers will visit Greenock (18 January), Falkirk (01 February) and Dunfermline (09 February) in the next couple of months.

Come and hear experts share about the many concerns surrounding the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme. Hope you can make it! Please visit our Roadshow page for more information.

 

GREENOCK ● MONDAY 18 JANUARY ● 7:30PM – 9PM

Holiday Inn Express, Cartsburn West, Greenock, PA15 1AE

FALKIRK ● MONDAY 01 FEBRUARY ● 7:30PM – 9PM

Camelon Suite, Best Western Park Hotel, Camelon Road, Falkirk, FK1 5RY

DUNFERMLINE ● TUESDAY 09 FEBRUARY ● 7:30PM – 9PM

Pitbauchlie House Hotel, Aberdour Road, Dunfermline, KY11 4PB

 

Download a NO2NP Roadshow flyer to share with friends

GREENOCK ROADSHOW (PDF)

FALKIRK ROADSHOW (PDF)

DUNFERMLINE ROADSHOW (PDF)

 

NO2NP ROADSHOW: PRESTWICK

The Prestwick meeting was packed on Tuesday night for the latest NO2NP Roadshow event. People from across South Ayrshire turned up to hear the NO2NP team bring them up to date with all that is happening with the legislation and the campaign.

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Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute welcomed everyone and spoke of the breadth of the coalition of individuals and organisations that makes up the NO2NP campaign. What unites everyone is “our belief in the autonomy of the family and its independence from unnecessary state interference”.

He went on to explain about the legal challenge to the legislation, which is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on 8th March. He made reference to the human rights arguments under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for private and family life) and data protection arguments and expressed the hope that the Supreme Court would strike down the legislation, as it is empowered to do.

Lesley Scott from TYMES (The Young ME Sufferers) Trust then spoke about the official report on the Highland Pathfinder Named Person pilot scheme, which Government politicians have been so positive about. However, on closer scrutiny, the report contains some revealing comments. It said that the small number of children involved in the Highland Pathfinder trial meant that any positive shifts tended to be exaggerated, and that it was not possible for them to determine the extent to which the services were getting it right for EACH child. Lesley remarked that when the needs of an individual child do not “fit” the GIRFEC template for “every” child, the parents’ right to act in accordance with the needs of their individual child is compromised.

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After a video about the NO2NP campaign was shown, next up was Alison Preuss from homeschooling charity Schoolhouse. She spoke about the award-winning AYRshare model for health and social care collaboration, which boasts that it “provides effective, timely and secure sharing of information between organisations to help address concerns about the wellbeing and protection of children and young people”.

In other words, Alison said, children’s personal data as well as their parents’ can be shared ‘at the click of a mouse’ across three council boundaries in Ayrshire, as well as the NHS, and will soon become available across other systems running elsewhere. Alison remarked that this could be called ‘putting sharing before caring’ and reminded those gathered that they have no choice in the matter.

She went on to explain that the Government’s GIRFEC scheme “fundamentally changes the relationship between citizen and state by fatally compromising the right to individual privacy and family autonomy. The Scottish Government has decided what is right for every one of us and that is so very wrong on so many levels.”

The evening ended with the usual lively Q&A and some practical suggestions for ways in which people can get involved with the campaign – and a good number of people were happy to sign up as volunteers.

NO2NP supporters will be in Ayr town centre this Saturday handing out leaflets – if you live in the area and would like to join us, please contact us at volunteers@no2np.org.

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"I oppose the Scottish Government's plan to assign a 'Named Person' to every child in Scotland because it undermines families and diverts resources from children who need them."

I am a resident of Scotland and 16-years-old or over