Strathspey Herald: Bid to derail ‘state guardian’ plan comes to Highlands

Scottish Sunday Express comment 22 June 2014

By Donna MacAllister

Controversial plans to introduce a “state guardian” for every child in Scotland will be scrutinised by MSPs, academics, social work experts and medics at a conference in Inverness.

The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group is organising the gathering prior to its £30,000 court battle aimed at derailing the Scottish Government proposals.

The system, which has been operating in Highland since 2009, involves a health visitor, teacher or someone in a similar position taking on the role of a “named person” to oversee a child’s development from birth to 18.

Opponents believe the policy undermines parents and allows the state unlimited access to pry into the privacy of families in their homes.

The Inverness conference at the Glenmoriston Town House on October 1 is being chaired by sociologist Dr Stuart Waiton, from Abertay University, a leading academic voice against the plans.

Dr Waiton said: “This conference has support from a whole range of individuals and organisations from across the political spectrum who can see that the government has gone far too far here and needs to recognise that it cannot and must not interfere in people’s lives unnecessarily in this way.”

The conference speakers include journalist and author Allan Massie, Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, a GP and author, Tory MSP Liz Smith, Maggie Mellon, an independent social services consultant, as well as community paediatrician Dr Jennifer Cunningham.

Highland Council’s head of care and learning Bill Alexander said concerns the plan contravened the European Convention on Human Rights were “misguided”.

Mr Alexander said the scheme had worked well for children in Highland.

“We have fewer children being reported to the children’s reporter, fewer children on the child protection register and fewer

children offending,” he said.

“And we had an inspection by the Care Inspectorate in November and December where we got the highest grades out of any local authority in Scotland.

22 September 2014