‘This is about empowering Named Person to police happiness of Scottish children’

During a BBC Radio Scotland debate last week Lesley Scott of ME children’s charity TYMES Trust, a supporter of NO2NP, warned that the Scottish Government’s plan was about “empowering the Named Person to police the happiness of Scottish children”.

Scott was debating Alex Cole-Hamilton, Head of Policy at children’s charity Aberlour and a proponent of the Named Person scheme. Cole-Hamilton failed to give a single example of how the Named Person scheme had made a positive impact when pressed by BBC presenter Kaye Adams.

Adams asked Cole-Hamilton: “What was happening that made anyone feel that this was necessary? Where was the gap? Where was the lack?”

Referring to the Highlands pilot he responded saying there had been “some really good examples of this drawing the threads together”.

Adams however said drawing the threads together was an “airy fairy expression” and asked for further clarification.

She pressed Cole-Hamilton again, saying: “Give me a positive example of where this has made a child or a family’s life better?

Cole-Hamilton again failed to provide a single example, but instead admitted it was about “prevention”.

He said: “I don’t have specific case examples to give you because this is all about prevention.”

Listen to the full exchange from 7 minutes 10 seconds

TYMES Trust’s Lesley Scott refuted Cole-Hamilton’s claims about the Named Person creating a single point of contact. She said parents already know who they need to go to if there is a problem, they already know who their child’s teacher, GP or health visitor is. These are all people who are already in place, she added.

Scott explained that the Named Person can access and share confidential medical data and school records. She continued: “They can question a child and give them advice, and supply services to them without the parents’ consent, and on the basis of what they think is most likely to make them happy”.

Scott also pointed out that the scheme was not about identifying significant risk or harm but about wellbeing, which is “a lower, broader undefined threshold”.

Scott also questioned how the scheme will work in practice. She raised concerns about the “enormous bureaucratic burden of the Named person” scheme on teachers and health visitors, who would be expected to administer the scheme, professions which she says are already at breaking point.

She said looking for children at risk is like looking for a needle in a haystack but all the Named Person scheme is doing is making the haystack bigger.

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