Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee has refused to back the Named Person information sharing Bill, in what may be the biggest setback to the scheme since it was declared unlawful by the UK Supreme Court last year.
Yesterday, the Committee told Deputy First Minister John Swinney that they cannot properly assess the Bill until they have an “authoritative draft” of the Code of Practice explaining how it will operate. Mr Swinney has previously said he is “not minded” to consult on the Code of Practice until the legislation has passed.
The Committee’s letter said that without the code “the majority of the Committee do not consider that they are able to make a decision on whether to recommend that the general principles of the bill be approved”.
In taking this action the Committee has rejected John Swinney’s attempt to railroad through the legislation without addressing the concerns of the UK Supreme Court.
Mr Swinney responded to the Committee’s decision by announcing he will form a new independent panel to try to persuade the public that the Named Person policy is ‘workable’.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert commented: “This is further evidence of the terrible handling of this policy. The Committee has shown it will not have the wool pulled over its eyes and has bravely stood up to John Swinney.
“Initially he and the Scottish Government tried to steamroller through this deeply flawed and unworkable Bill without giving MSPs the chance to see the crucial details of how it would work in practice.
“Expert witnesses from the legal world and practitioners who will have to work with this scheme have all warned about the dangers and shortcomings of this Bill.
“The Committee has taken heed of that evidence – unlike the Government, which has ploughed on regardless. Now it is being forced to go back and think again.
“John Swinney cannot ignore this and must act on the Committee’s letter. He’s kept MSPs, parents and practitioners in the dark. It’s time he saw the light and consigned this appalling legislation to the Holyrood dustbin. It’s clearly not fit for purpose. MSPs know that. Parents and practitioners know that too. In fact everyone seems to know that except the Scottish Government.
“As things stand, the legal advice we have received is that the new Bill is vulnerable to more court action with good prospects of a victory for any challenge.”
In a parting shot, the Committee also addressed accusations that the Scottish Government had applied pressure to some of the witnesses who are before it to give evidence, demanding reassurances that the Government had not “sought to directly influence evidence to the Committee”.
Significant changes were needed after the UK Supreme Court struck down the information sharing provisions at the heart of the Named Person scheme.
But has the Scottish Government done enough to address the issues?
NO2NP puts the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill to the test.
1. Not in accordance with law
The UK Supreme Court ruled that the Named Person information sharing provisions were not “in accordance with the law”. The legislation breached the rights of children and families under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Scottish Government managed to pass legislation which was not legal!
A big problem to solve.
So what has been done to make things right?
In a word, not enough.
Judges said: “changes are needed both to improve the accessibility of the legal rules and to provide safeguards so that the proportionality of an interference can be challenged and assessed” (emphasis added) (para. 107).
But this new Bill has failed to resolve these issues.
Anybody trying to understand what the law is will have to simultaneously consider several separate pieces of complex legislation: the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Draft Code of Practice, as well as the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
This does not sound very accessible!
How can busy practitioners, those expected to carry out the role of Named Persons who are unlikely to have legal qualifications – particularly teachers and health visitors – be expected to negotiate this area with enough certainty to know that they are able to share information when the rules are spread out across at least four pieces of legislation?
As for providing safeguards against unlawful interference, the Scottish Government has taken a step forward, but the situation is still confusing. It has the opportunity to put proper, clear safeguards on the face of the legislation, and it should do so.
2. Voluntary nature of the Named Person service
The UK Supreme Court also said that the Scottish Government had to make clear that advice from the Named Person is entirely voluntary.
The Policy Memorandum published alongside the 2017 Bill has offered some clarification:
“Children and young people, and their parents, can accept or reject advice, information, support and help offered by a named person under Part 4 of the 2014 Act. … This freedom of choice must be made clear to them. Refusal to accept advice or services offered or refusal to co-operate with a child’s plan is not in itself to be taken as evidence of a risk of harm.”
However guidance is not law. So it’s doubtful that the words about the voluntary nature of the scheme would carry sufficient weight with parents unless it is on the face of the legislation.
Many parents remain unconvinced by the Government’s ‘voluntary nature’ rhetoric, and would prefer a proper ‘opt-out’ to ensure their personal information is not being shared and actions not taken without their full knowledge and informed consent.
3. Definition of wellbeing
The Scottish Government has done nothing to address the “notably vague” definition of wellbeing as identified by the UK Supreme Court. The wellbeing threshold is the driving force of the Named Person scheme. Without a clear definition it will be difficult for practitioners to know what is proportionate and in accordance with the law, leaving individual families at risk of having their human rights breached.
The Faculty of Advocates has also warned that the Scottish Government’s proposed changes don’t go far enough to meet the Supreme Court’s concerns.
Clan Childlaw, a leading children’s legal charity, expressed concern that the Scottish Government’s revised Named Person information sharing legislation wouldn’t fix the issues raised by the UK Supreme Court.
In its written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee that the bill “fails to overcome the difficulties identified by the Supreme Court, in relation to lack of precision and accessibility, and lack of safeguards and consent”.
We hope the Deputy First Minister and his team will take heed and listen to the serious concerns being raised, so that they are not forced back to the legislative drawing board… again.
It’s already six months since the end of John Swinney’s ‘three-month period of intense engagement’… And still no word from the Scottish Government.
Could it be that officials are struggling to resurrect the Named Person scheme after the UK Supreme Court struck down the very heart of it?
The judgment noted that “the sharing of personal data between relevant public authorities is central to the role of the named person” (para. 78).
It then concluded that these information-sharing provisions were:
• Incompatible with the rights of children, young persons and parents under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
• May in practice result in a disproportionate interference with the article 8 rights of many children, young persons and their parents, through the sharing of private information;
• Not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament” deeming the legislation “defective” and blocking it from coming into force.
So, did the Scottish Government get any helpful advice on information sharing during its ‘three-month period of intense engagement’?
Well, a large number of groups including Social Work Scotland, Clan Childlaw, the Office of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner and several of the Third Sector organisations suggested that information sharing provisions should not be included in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act. They expressed a preference for relying on existing legal frameworks and having guidance on the Data Protection Act.
Even at the Information Sharing Stakeholder Reference Group meeting, you know, the GIRFEC data-sharing gurus, it was said that “absolute requirement to share information is not an approach desired by the majority of stakeholders”.
In terms of consent, the NHS GIRFEC leads thought a legislative duty to seek consent might alter commonly understood and accepted practice.
Another group highlighted that “obtaining consent is fundamental to effective support”.
Perhaps not the feedback the Scottish Government was hoping for… might explain why we haven’t heard much from them lately.
Back in December, NO2NPers wrote in their hundreds to the Deputy First Minister, making sure their concerns were heard as part of the “intense engagement” over the Named Person scheme.
After thinking that just a few minor tweaks would be needed, and with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney encouraging councils and health boards to continue developing their Named Person schemes on 8 September 2016, it seems to be taking the Scottish Government a long time to work out how to fix the unlawful scheme.
The Scottish Government has finally – after two months – got around to writing back to people. We thought we’d take a look at what they’re saying, just to see if there are any clues about what the Government are thinking about the future…
Hmm…the GIRFEC team “have been engaging widely”. Is that really true? They refused to see NO2NP as part of the engagement process, telling The Christian Institute, one of the parties involved in the legal action, that because of the “fundamental policy disagreement”, the Scottish Government would only be engaging with people who “wish to improve the legislation”.
This is despite the fact that a poll last year found that only 24 per cent of Scots think that every child should have a state-appointed Named Person and almost two-thirds believe the Named Person is “an unacceptable intrusion into family life”. If the Scottish Government took engagement seriously, they would be talking especially to those who have concerns, not leaving them out in the cold. There are also over 36,500 people who have expressed their concerns and opposition to the Named Person scheme via the NO2NP petition – does the Scottish Government think their views don’t matter?
The Supreme Court did not just have “concerns” about the information sharing provisions, they said in paragraph 15 that the new information sharing legal powers and duties for Named Persons formed “one of the central purposes of Part 4” and stated clearly in paragraph 78: “the sharing of personal data between relevant public authorities is central to the role of the named person”. The judges continued that “the operation of the information-sharing provisions of Part 4… will result in interferences with rights protected by article 8 of the ECHR.”
Given that the Supreme Court ruling blew a hole in the Government’s plans by striking down the data-sharing which was “central” why boast about failing to consult widely? Clearly they need to consult widely to understand the problems with the scheme.
Well, if only that were the whole story. The Supreme Court actually said a lot more than that Ministers needed to provider greater clarity. In paragraph 73, the judges noted: “The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children…” – totalitarian sounds pretty bad. As well as a lack of clarity, the judges referred to “confusion”, so it looks like the scheme will be needing more than minor tweaks.
Finally, this is closer to the truth. Paragraph 106 of the Supreme Court judgment explains that “the information-sharing provisions of Part 4 of the Act… are incompatible with the rights of children, young persons and parents under article 8 of the ECHR” and concludes by saying they are “not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament”.
The Supreme Court actually said that while it cannot be said that the operation of the Named Person’s functions will necessarily “amount to a disproportionate interference with article 8 rights” (para. 96), there was a definite risk that the Named Person in practice also could interfere with article 8 rights (para. 106).
This has to be the favourite…or wait, the only part of the Supreme Court judgment that the Scottish Government seem proud to quote. Even then, it should be taken in its context. The Supreme Court are talking about the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act as a whole, and say in paragraph 91 that it is the aim of the Act that is “unquestionably legitimate and benign” – that is, “the promotion and safeguarding of the wellbeing of children and young persons”. We never challenged that!
Due to the fact that Part 4 of the Act breached the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act, the Supreme Court judges ruled that the information-sharing provisions were “not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament” (para. 106). Regardless of what the votes were in the Scottish Parliament, we won! Whatever the vote, it was a breach of fundamental human rights and of the Data Protection Act.
So in the end, the Scottish Government have engaged with lots of people, but fairly reluctantly. They were forced into it by losing in the Supreme Court and then cut themselves off from a valuable supply of input – those proved right by the Supreme Court. Do these figures include the hundreds of NO2NPers who proactively emailed even though the Government didn’t want to hear from them?
No one objects to children and parents getting advice and help if and when they need it, but what we’ve argued, and what the Supreme Court accepted, is that the plans breached privacy and it is not clear that the scheme is not compulsory – as the First Minister has said. In paragraph 95, the judges explained that there is a risk that “parents will be given the impression that they must accept the advice or services which they are offered”. The Scottish Government have not been clear: on the one hand, the First Minister has insisted that the Named Person is an “entitlement”, but on the other hand, there has been no clear explanation given of how to opt out of the scheme. And “not engaging” is apparently a “risk factor”.
Well, this explains why some of you are still being told your children have a Named Person. Some councils are continuing to run a non-statutory Named Person scheme, but it is crucial to remember that they can’t lawfully share your personal, sensitive information in the way that the Government wanted, and any advice offered by a Named Person has to be optional.
We would beg to differ. This Government-backed leaflet said that the Named Person will check that your child is respected, including by seeing whether they get a say in how their room is decorated and what they watch on TV.
Yes, maybe it can free up resources, but it can also do the opposite by generating lots of unnecessary referrals over trivial matters. It won’t free up teachers – they are busy enough already and have expressed concerns about the increased workload. Greg Dempster, General Secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland said last year: “There is an issue with bureaucracy. The biggest issue that I hear mentioned as an absorber of headteacher time is the bureaucracy associated with the named person duties and GIRFEC. It would be useful to have a look at that bureaucracy.” A survey of health visitors represented by UNISON Scotland also highlighted concerns about the increased workload with Named Person duties.
We’ve always argued that generating unnecessary reports on well-adjusted families will overburden already overstretched social services departments. The Named Person scheme, far from freeing up resources, could see trivial matters being raised with social services on the basis that they may be relevant to wellbeing, even though they are not remotely near the threshold of child protection issues.
Surely parents have the primary responsibility for raising their children? Yet the Named Person scheme threatens to undermine parents. The Children’s Parliament even dubbed Named Persons ‘Head Gardeners’, while parents were demoted to mere ‘gardeners’ alongside ‘other adults’. If it doesn’t undermine families, why did the Faculty of Advocates say that it “dilutes the legal role of parents” and “undermines family autonomy”?
If that was it, no one would be objecting to the scheme. The trouble is, the Government haven’t really made it clear that parents can just use the Named Persons service as and when they want it. The Supreme Court judgment stated in paragraph 95 that “there must be a risk that… parents will be given the impression that they must accept the advice or services which they are offered… and further, that their failure to co-operate with such a plan will be taken to be evidence of a risk of harm”.
If the new legislation is just formalising a role that already exists and doesn’t change anything, why did the ICO say that it was lowering the trigger for the sharing of personal information? Why did the Supreme Court strike down the information-sharing provisions if nothing had really changed?
Well, this letter was still being sent to people in February. But finally after a long wait Mr Swinney has announced he will make a statement in Parliament today on the future of Named Persons. Watch it live at about 2:20pm: www.scottishparliament.tv
The Deputy First Minister has claimed the Supreme Court defeat “does not require current policy to change” and that it “vindicated” the Parliament vote for the Named Person legislation.
John Swinney made the remarks during a statement on Named Persons to the Scottish Parliament today.
Reacting to the statement, NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert said:
“This would be laughable if it were not so offensive to the parents whose human rights were so cavalierly ignored in the drafting of the Named Person law.
“The Supreme Court said the kind of widespread, routine sharing of sensitive personal data that the Government wanted is unlawful and a breach of human rights and cannot go ahead. It said this data sharing was ‘central’ to the Named Person policy and its ruling blew it out of the water.
“So whatever the Deputy First Minister may claim, the Named Person scheme he ends up with in a year’s time will be very different from the policy he wanted.
“Instead of focusing on saving face, the Government should be apologising to parents for ignoring their human rights.
“We welcome the Deputy First Minister’s pledge to consult widely with professionals and parents, including people who do not agree with the Named Person.
“The consultation, and the acknowledgement that it will take a year to draw up and implement the new proposals, is an admission that they have to heavily rewrite key aspects of the Named Person policy.
“The ‘business as usual’ message which the Scottish Government had been sending out since the Named Person ruling was in danger of leading local authorities to carry on with unlawful sharing of private information on families.
“Having spent years encouraging the widespread illegal sharing of sensitive personal data, they should now be doing everything they can to put a stop to it.
“Parents who feared that Named Persons were sharing embarrassing personal information behind their backs have been frightened by the Government’s bluster about barrelling on with the Named Person.
“Today, Mr Swinney has made clear that data-sharing needs to comply with the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act. That is welcome.
“Will his Government now also launch an inquiry to discover what illegal data-sharing has already taken place, and announce what they are doing to stamp it out?”
Full statement on Named Person – Deputy First Minister, 8th September 2016
Many have been asking what will happen when the 42 days proposed by the UK Supreme Court comes to an end and what exactly is the Section 102 order.
Section 102 is a mechanism that allows for the suspension of the effect of a court’s decision to strike down a piece of legislation while the problems with it are sorted out.
This is a rarely used constitutional power. Section 102 was intended to be used in cases where the court is proposing to declare a statutory provision which is already in force to be unlawful. In order to avoid resulting chaos from striking down the law, they give the executive a period in which to fix it, while allowing the unlawful law to remain in force and effect.
In this case, the law is not in effect and the UK Supreme Court has declared that it cannot be brought into effect. However, section 102 could allow the UK Supreme Court to keep a supervisory role in settling any replacement legislation.
The 42 days cited in the judgment are for the parties involved in the legal action to make submissions on whether or not the UK Supreme Court should use its section 102 power. At the conclusion of the submissions, the Court could maintain a supervisory role over the Scottish Government/Parliament, given them a period to change the law and guidance into what the Scottish Ministers think to be a Convention compatible form and then re-present this to the court for their approval.
It is certainly not expected that the necessary legislative/guidance changes will be presented to the court within the 42 day period mentioned in the judgment.
Council areas where we believe Named Persons have been rolled out include…
• Aberdeen City Council
• Aberdeenshire Council
• Angus Council
• Argyll & Bute Council
• Dundee City Council
• Edinburgh City Council
• Falkirk Council
• Fife Council
• Glasgow City Council
• Highland Council
• Moray Council
• North Lanarkshire Council
• Perth and Kinross Council
• Renfrewshire Council
• Shetland Islands Council
• South Ayrshire Council
• South Lanarkshire Council
You have the right to request copies of any personal information an organisation may be holding about you. This is known as a Subject Access Request.
Judges at the UK Supreme Court have declared the Scottish Government’s ‘state snooper’ Named Person scheme to be illegal.
The controversial legislation has been condemned for breaching the human rights of families.
It is the first time the Supreme Court has prevented a major piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament from coming into force.
In a historic verdict, five of the UK’s most senior judges, including two Scots, unanimously overturned decisions by the courts in Edinburgh on the legality of the Named Person provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
The judges branded the law “defective” for breaching article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantees everyone’s “right to a private and family life”.
They declared Holyrood had exceeded its powers by making a law which allowed public bodies to share sensitive private information about children and parents without consent.
The judges stated:
“The sharing of personal data between relevant public authorities is central to the role of the named person … the operation of the information sharing provisions will result in interferences with the rights protected by article 8 of the ECHR” (Para. 78). Because of the lack of safeguards “the overriding of confidentiality is likely often to be disproportionate” (Para. 100).
“…the information-sharing provisions of Part 4 of the Act are not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament” (Para. 106).
“…since the defective provisions are not within the legislative competence of the Parliament, they cannot be brought into force.” (Para. 109)
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert, said:
“We are delighted with the decision, which proves our concerns, and those of the 35,000 people who signed our petition, were properly founded.
“This proposed scheme was intrusive, incomprehensible and illegal.
“This ruling means the Scottish Government has been blocked from implementing this scheme on August 31. It must scrap its plan for state snoopers with intrusive data sharing powers. It has to go back to the legislative drawing board if it wants to try again. But it would have to come up with a much more limited scheme that actually respects the rights of children and parents.”
“The Big Brother scheme is history.”
“It’s wonderful news for mums, dads and children all across Scotland who no longer have to worry about this unjustified invasion of their private lives. To many of them the Named Person scheme felt like a legal battering ram to gain access to their homes. The court has taken sides with ordinary families and put the Scottish Government back in its place.”
The judgment emphasises the importance of article 8. In a withering verdict on the Government flagship legislation, it said:
“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.” (Para. 73)
They also quoted from a US Supreme Court judgment which states:
“The child is not the mere creature of the state” (Para. 73).
To read the judgment or see the hand down visit the UK Supreme Court website.
The troubling story of Kayley Hutton in 2013 was described as the “first example” of how the controversial Named Person scheme could have “disturbing consequences”.
Kayley, who already had a six-year-old daughter called Kaiya, spoke of how the authorities tried to present her as an “unfit parent” and separate her from her newborn son, Duncan.
As we approach 2016 and the nationwide implementation of the Named Person scheme in August, we fear more cases like Kayley’s will emerge.
One campaigner warned at the time that “ill-informed opinions” were “putting innocent families under unwarranted scrutiny, resulting in unsubstantiated allegations being kept on file for who knows how long”.
And to date there have been no steps to address this concern in the legislation being rolled out next year.
Kayley, a mother-of-two, disclosed during a “risk assessment” process that she, like many others, sometimes suffered from depression and anxiety.
After, Kayley was told she could no longer use her local hospital but instead had to give birth at another hospital – because it had mental health facilities!
Kayley, who was 25 at the time, had previously been praised for her parenting skills by midwives and health visitors and could not understand why staff were treating her this way.
An overreaction from officials you might think… Perhaps not if you’d seen the way information had been mis-recorded about Kayley in an official dossier by ‘named persons’. And of course without Kayley’s knowledge or consent.
After giving birth Kayley was banned from leaving the hospital with her newborn son until she had had a meeting with her support worker, a social worker and health visitor. When Kayley tried to discharge herself, she was told her son would have to stay with nurses.
“It was completely over the top”, said Kayley, “I thought I was going to have my son taken away from me as soon as I gave birth”.
“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat and I was phoning up everybody asking ‘Who thinks I’m a risk to my child?’”
After this distressing ordeal Kayley requested to see this 120-page dossier containing notes recorded by ‘named persons’ – the content was truly shocking!
It turns out officials had been secretly recording innocuous incidents as matters for concern.
For example, Kayley had had a casual discussion with her daughter’s nursery teacher about how Kaiya had woken up one morning. She said her daughter had gone into the kitchen and started banging pots together, rather than going into Kayley’s room.
The nursery teacher then recorded this in a database as: “Mother failed to wake with child. Child playing unattended in kitchen.”
Another report by Kayley’s support worker stated: “Kayley was waving off an overnight visitor as I left”.
This guest was actually a female friend who had stayed at her house after a relationship ended.
Furious, Kayley said: “Does that not sound like I’ve just had some sort of one night stand? Why does that need to be written?”
Kayley believes these false accusations singled her out as a target and resulted in her mistreatment. She said at the time: “This is part of the problem with the [Children and Young People (Scotland) Act], they are making data protection laws even more lax. People can store and share really subjective information that is all out of context about all of us.”
Nick Pickles, of campaign group Big Brother Watch, commented at the time: “This is exactly what we worried would happen. Hearsay and ill-informed opinions are putting innocent families under unwarranted scrutiny, resulting in unsubstantiated allegations being kept on file for who knows how long.
“When it comes to childcare the people who should be making decisions are medical professionals and not state snoopers.
“This scheme is a disaster waiting to happen and risks driving parents away from the entire support system available to them, for fear of being wrongly accused.
“It’s a daft, unworkable policy and it should be ditched before more innocent parents face this kind of distressing episode.”
Source: EXCLUSIVE: State snoopers tried to separate devoted mum from her baby, express.co.uk, 06 Aug 2013
It’s so important that as many people as possible get to hear about the dangers of the Named Person scheme and the damaging effect it will have on families in Scotland.
There are so many ways in which you can take action but here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Talk to parents you know about the scheme and encourage them to sign the petition.
- Join the conversation on social media or parent forums to raise awareness about what the scheme involves and why you oppose it. Don’t forget to use #NO2NP.
- Write to your local newspaper setting out the key talking points – our ‘11 Reasons’ leaflet will help you.
- Door-to-door leafleting is a fantastic way to spread the word in your area. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with the streets you plan to cover, the number of leaflets you need and the address we should send them to.
- Look out for a NO2NP Action Day near you and volunteer to be part of a street team raising awareness of the Named Person scheme.
Together we can have an even bigger impact and show the politicians how the ordinary people of Scotland really feel about the Named Person scheme.
The Scottish Government has released a video showing its highlights of the Fairer Scotland ‘conversations’. The Government’s report, however, sounds somewhat different to what has been reported elsewhere. (more…)
Around sixty locals turned out for the latest stop in Scottish Government Minister Alex Neil’s summer tour in Kilmarnock on Thursday. The lunchtime event was held in the town’s Centrestage Theatre and, in keeping with the venue, the opening item was a medley of traditional Scottish songs sung by a local male voice choir – not at all what those who had gathered were expecting.
The bemused audience were further surprised when it became clear that Mr Neil would not be present for the “conversation” that was to take place during the meeting, but instead, local individuals noted questions from each table.
Alex Neil returned after about 40 minutes to hear from each table the major concerns people had about community life in Scotland and what the Scottish government could do better. A retired businessman referred Mr Neil to the Scottish government’s publication, Creating A Fairer Scotland – What Matters To You? – a copy of which had been made available to everyone. The publication states: “The vast majority of children starting primary school don’t show any signs of social, emotional or behavioural difficulties” and the businessman wanted to know why, given that frank admission, the Scottish government has appointed a guardian for every single child and young person until they are 18.
Mr Neil explained that the scheme was intended to identify the many children he claims have been abused but have not yet been identified (thereby treating every parent as a potential child abuser) and he believed parents would be consulted on who their child’s Named Person was going to be (even though there is nothing at all said about this in either the Act or the draft guidance). The Minister confirmed when pressed that there would definitely be a review of the legislation within a year or two of its coming into force in August 2016.
At the end of the event, Mr Neil did finally address all those gathered and highlighted the many concerns he had heard raised about the Named Person scheme. He indicated that these would be “fed in” to the other feedback they were receiving from around the country and would hopefully be addressed in the coming days.
The meeting was finished with a rendition by some local teenagers of the song from the Joseph musical Any Dream Will Do, but perhaps there should be added to the title “provided your Named Person considers it promotes your wellbeing”.
It was revealed at the weekend that Scotland’s police force is concerned that children could be the victim of “further criminal acts” caused by “significant time delay” created by the extra layers of unwieldy bureaucracy linked to the Named Person proposals.
A NO2NP spokesman said a ministerial public statement is required “as soon as possible” to explain how many youngsters have been left in danger and for how long.
The Police Scotland warning is contained in an official police submission on the guidance to how the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will operate.
The submission states: “A potential risk has been identified that ‘wellbeing concern’ assessments are being carried out by a range of practitioners from organisations when there is actual information that a child has or is the victim of abuse and or neglect deemed as criminal acts.
And it continues: “This has resulted in a time delay, at times significant, during which time the children (or other children) are exposed to the potential of further criminal acts and the potential for evidential opportunities to be lost or compromised. Specific examples can be provided if required.”
The NO2NP spokesman said: “This submission essentially discredits the entire Named Person scheme by telling the world that the policy risks allowing more abuse to take place while non-experts sit on evidence of serious criminality against children, and jeopardise the prospects of bringing abusers to justice. The Named Person policy is a catastrophic idea and it must be scrapped immediately.”
He added: “The allegations made by Police Scotland could not be more serious. Rather than speeding up help for abused and neglected children, the extra layers of bureaucracy significantly delayed the reporting of criminal acts against the youngsters.
“‘Wellbeing’ assessments, which are at the heart of the entire Named Person scheme, have apparently caused delays that allowed abused children to be exposed to yet more abuse.
“Named Persons, unlike social workers, are not experts in handling child abuse cases. It is unfair on teachers and health visitors to burden them with this responsibility. This statement from the police shows that involving non-experts in serious cases of abuse and neglect risks losing key evidence, allowing child abusers to avoid justice.
“This damning piece of new evidence gives the lie to the Government’s main defence for the Named Person scheme. The incompetent Named Person policy will not protect abused and neglected children – it will expose them to even more danger.
He continued: “The police offered the Government specific examples where following the Named Person policy actually delayed reports of child abuse and neglect. The public must be told immediately if the Government has asked for that evidence and if not, why not.
“The minister must make a public statement at the earliest possible opportunity about any and all cases where Named Person pilot schemes have resulted in delays reporting child abuse and neglect.
“This latest shocking development confirms that the Named Person policy is going to be a disaster: a disaster for abused and neglected children and a disaster for good Scottish families.
“The time has come for the Government to admit it has made a huge mistake and scrap the whole scheme.
The NO2NP spokesman added: “The Government will point to the fact that Police Scotland say they support the Named Person scheme. But what else are they going to say? The police can’t lobby against a key government policy. But they have essentially discredited the entire Named Person scheme by telling the world that the policy risks allowing more abuse to take place while non-experts sit on evidence of serious criminality against children, and jeopardise the prospects of bringing abusers to justice. The Named Person policy is a catastrophic idea and it must be scrapped immediately.”
Police warnings over state guardians, Scottish Sunday Express, 19 July 2015
Police abuse warning over SNP state guardian plan, Scottish Sunday Telegraph, 19 July 2015
Police Scotland submission, 2015 (See page 2)
A senior member of the SNP Government has come face to face with critics of the Named Person plans. (more…)
Writing in the Sunday Express the Scottish Conservative Spokeswoman for Young People has warned that the Scottish Government’s Named Person plans “will not work”.
Liz Smith MSP said many parents and professionals are likening it to “the totalitarian imagery in George Orwell’s famous book, 1984”.
She acknowledged the Scottish Government’s motivation to tackle “appalling abuse which is suffered by some children”, but asserted that “you do not do that by insisting that all children between the ages of zero and 18 have a state guardian”, and branded the policy “both sinister and hugely misguided”.
The article stated: “For a start, what is implicit in this proposal to have a Named Person for every child is the assumption that the state, rather than parents and families, has the primary obligation to look after children. That is entirely the wrong way round.
“If there are thousands of parents across Scotland doing a thoroughly good job – and there are – then what right does the Scottish Government have to tell them that the state knows better? What on earth is the point of insisting that these families have a Named Person on the same basis as those families who face genuine problems? I do not believe that anyone can work out the logic of this thinking.”
She continued: “Secondly, by insisting every child has a Named Person, the Scottish Government will, by definition, dilute the resources which are available to help those children in genuine need. Is the Scottish Government really suggesting that an 18-year-old couple who are very successfully bringing up a toddler are in need of three Named Persons when there are some children out there who desperately need our help?
“Little wonder that local authorities, who are already under considerable financial pressure, are throwing up their hands in horror at what this might mean for them”, she declared.
The MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife noted that the recent controversial Hampden event, where organisers were accused of bribing parents to turn up, was a recognition that the policy was in “big trouble” and an attempt to persuade parents that there was nothing to worry about.
“So it is little wonder that large numbers of parents are starting to rebel and those who are supposed to operate and oversee the policy are voicing serious concerns. Whether it is the police, our lawyers, groups of teachers or health visitors, a number of professional bodies have said that they don’t think the scheme can really work in practice.
“They say it will be impossible to avoid controversial sharing of confidential data and confusion over the lines of family responsibilities.”
Suggesting that better options were possible, she concluded: “The Named Person policy is intrusive, unnecessary and the accompanying guidance is nothing more than bureaucratic gobbledygook.
“Perhaps this is why some MSPs, who initially backed the legislation, are now coming out of the woodwork, having second thoughts because they now understand the implications of this terrible legislation.
“They can see the growing fury amongst parents who will simply not accept that they need to be told how to bring up their own children and they can recognise the alarm bells amongst professional organisations.
“The best thing the Scottish Government can do now is scrap it all together – before George Orwell’s famous book becomes a reality.”
Source: Scottish Sunday Express, 12 July 2015
Hugh Henry MSP for Renfrewshire South has become the latest voice to question the controversial Named Person scheme.
Henry says he is concerned about overburdening schools which are not set up to take the extra workload, as well as the financial implications for councils.
Henry said: “I do have concerns about the way in which the SNP government is introducing the Named Persons Policy.
“There could be significant financial implications for councils and I am worried that children that have no need for a named person will have one imposed upon them.
He added: “I fail to see how in large schools staff will have sufficient time or knowledge to make this work properly.
“The Scottish Government should listen to parents and others who are calling for a rethink,” urged Henry.
His comments are just the latest in a mounting chorus of criticism. In recent weeks concerns have been expressed by Police Scotland, EIS (the country’s largest teaching union), children’s panel members, sociologists, activists of all parties and newspaper editors.
This is on top of the Law Society, the Faculty of Advocates, Child Clan Law, the Scottish Association of Social Workers, the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and many others who have been expressing concerns for some time.
Even those supporting the Named Person scheme are failing to coherently answer basic queries about the plans.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Alan Small, Chair of Fife Child Protection Committee, faced questions from presenter Kaye Adams about the catch-all, intrusive nature of the legislation.
Attempting to defend the scheme, Small said people understand that “at times” families need somebody to turn to, but Adams pointed out that it is unclear to what extent the Named Person will have the power or inclination to interfere or pry into family life.
When asked if a parent can hang up the phone on the Named Person and say they’re not interested, Small responded with an unconvincing “No. Er… Yes and No”. Hesitating, he said “it all needs to be taken into context with the needs of the child”.
This caused Adams to ask: “But who decides the needs of the child?”
To which Small asserted that it would be public services and the Named Person who decide.
Adams continued to probe asking: “And where’s the parent in that?”
Avoiding the question, Small instead spoke about “proportionality”, which he says is an important word to be used when discussing the scheme, but he was unable to explain what the word actually meant when pressed by Adams.
Adams said: “Define for me proportionality.”
Small replied: “I actually don’t think there is a definition suitable for proportionality… er… proportionality is fairly well understood in public services…”
A columnist for the Scottish Daily mail has written extensively on why the Named Person plans are unwise, unlawful and unfounded.
John MacLeod said: “Many fear that the named person could have too much power. Others wonder about implications under the Data Protection Act or the terms of confidence. How much might lawfully be kept from parents?”
He continued: “just one of the details that makes the named persons scheme such thoroughly bad law is how it ensnares every child in the country, not just those already known to be at risk or of which, in that weasel term, ‘social services are aware’.
“Indeed, a strong argument in itself against the plan is how it will dangerously overstretch public resources and officials: that truly vulnerable, seriously abused youngsters will be overlooked amid a tsunami of moans.”
MacLeod also referred to a similar programme to Named Person which was launched on the Isle of Man in 2010 where, “the world and his wife were invited to report even the slightest concern to children’s social care”.
He noted that: “It rapidly grew hard to retain or recruit staff as they buckled under a preposterous new workload. Families, meanwhile, resented needless intervention.
“A Tynwald committee in time pronounced that over-referral threatens the protection of children at significant risk of harm because of the difficulty of finding a needle in such a large haystack.”
The columnist also drew attention to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which “asserts that citizens have a right to a “private and family life… the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”.
He added: “By its very enacting, the new law undermines parental authority and the privacy of the home – to say nothing of clear EU law on data confidentiality and how freely sensitive information may be passed around the public sector.”
“The overwhelming majority of Scotland’s carers and parents do a perfectly good job of raising their children and the Scottish Government’s ongoing insistence that ‘the new scheme is very little different to what happens already’ immediately begs the question: why change it?”
MacLeod concluded that, “untold Scottish Government energy has been vested in this chilling new scheme – founded on the premise that you, as parents, may well be evil or at least grossly incompetent; that you must be monitored in time for the state to stop you.”
Sociologist and Scotsman columnist Tiffany Jenkin has called for the Named Person scheme to be scrapped.
Writing in a comment piece for the Scotsman over the weekend, she said: “The named person scheme is an unprecedented and damaging intervention into family life that will direct help away from those most in need. It should be scrapped.”
She said: “Lumping parental responsibilities on state agencies will mitigate against children’s interests being served”.
Remarking on the process of childrearing, she said: “Most parents raise their children the same way: according to their own beliefs, hopes and dreams, with all the idiosyncrasies that accompany them, under the pressured, day-to-day realities of their busy lives – but they all do it with love. The nature of domestic life is that it is messy, but even when people get things a little wrong, and that’s not hard, everyone is trying to do their best.”
Jenkins asserted: “What everyone needs is to be allowed to get on with it. To be trusted to do a reasonable job, and not blamed for problems that are nothing, or not much, to do with childrearing.”
But she says this, “it would seem, is impossible”
She explained that, “in the last few decades, the family and the early years of a child’s life have been identified, in political circles, as the breeding ground for social problems. The family is fingered as the place where everything goes wrong: poor educational attainment, obesity, joblessness, stress, addiction, criminality, if not intentionally so, then accidentally so, according to policymakers.”
Jenkins warned: “Policymakers pose early intervention into a child’s life as the solution to any problem that might arise later. It is a flawed approach that has negative consequences: social solutions to such problems are neglected – structural issues are ignored; and the family has become the focus of intervention, intervention that seems to know no end.”
She said the assumptions behind this kind of approach “will cause more harm than good”.
Commenting on the Named Person scheme, she warned: “So every single child will have a named person – someone who is not their mum or dad, a member of their extended family, or in their circle of friends – to watch over them, and watch over their parents.
Jenkins highlighted: “Up until this scheme, professionals involved in children’s lives had to have a reason to be there: education, health or serious concerns about abuse. Up until this law, state intervention required justification – no longer is this the case.”
Source: Tiffany Jenkins: Named person law is troubling, The Scotsman, 03 July 2015
Herald Scotland social affairs correspondent, Stephen Naysmith, has described the Named Person scheme as “a presentational fiasco”.
Naysmith highlights the Government’s failure to answer simple questions such as: “Will the scheme divert resources away from those who need them most? What happens if a named person thinks a child needs intervention but social workers think there is no need (or resources)? How will it help, teachers and health visitors already look out for children in their care?”
He stresses that “not being able to explain – clearly – why a universal named person scheme will be able to help families better or sooner than existing arrangements has been a disaster.”
Naysmith concluded: “Maybe the legislation is bad to the bone, or maybe it just needs to be better communicated. But ministers’ current favoured explanation – “you never know when someone’s going to need help” – just doesn’t cut it.”
He also commented on the recently revealed consultation responses to the Government’s guidance on how the Named Person scheme would work in practice.
Naysmith said: “The report on the Government’s guidelines was generous to a fault. For example it found 38% of organisations said examples in the guidance hadn’t been helpful, while 63% had. This is recorded as ‘in general, organisations found the examples… helpful’.
“Yet opaque jargon and a lack of detail have left the public suspicious. Even organisations repeatedly told researchers the guidance was complex, repetitive and left them none the wiser.”
Source: Named persons turning into a PR disaster for ministers, Herald Scotland, 06 July 2015
A Children’s Panel Member in Falkirk, which has been operating the ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’ (GIRFEC) approach for some time, has written to The Scotsman criticising the Named Person plans.
“My objections are as stated by many others, in the area of unnecessary state intervention into family life”, wrote David Donaldson.
He continued: “On a practical note, most government department’s administration is slow moving and woefully inefficient, with the obvious recent example of the police being unable to indicate numbers of stop and searches and blaming it on a “clunky’ computer.
“What chance, therefore, is there of an effective system of monitoring every child in Scotland up to the age of 18?
Donaldson raised concern that families in crisis, which “require a speedy, effective response from the relevant services”, will fall into the “black hole” of Government administration.
He said: “At present, Children’s Hearings receive reports from and attendance by Social Services, health visitors, and teachers, along with many other organisations such as Barnardo’s and Spark of Genius, as well as local ¬authority intensive crisis services.
“Many of these people who will be ‘Named Persons’ are already actively involved with families and doing excellent work. Families in crisis require a speedy, effective response from the relevant services but there is the real likelihood they will fall into the “black hole” that will be Government administration.
He asserted: “We do not need GIRFEC but what we do need is ‘Get It Right For Every Vulnerable Child’ and there are, unfortunately, still too many of them.
“If the Scottish Government has £40 million to invest it would be much better spent in bolstering the existing services which are often overstretched and swimming against the tide”.
Source: Scotsman Letters: Guard against ‘named person’ notion, The Scotsman, 06 July 2015
Pressure has been mounting on the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme this week, with a succession of media stories reporting serious concerns about the plans.
Teachers worry about increased workload as named person for pupils
Herald Scotland, 03 July 2015
Minister falters over SNP “state snoopers” plan
Scottish Daily Mail, 03 July 2015
Child plan could make risk harder to spot, police warn
The Times, 03 July 2015
Scottish Government under pressure over ‘state guardian’ plan
Scottish Daily Telegraph, 02 July 2015
Ken Macintosh demands review of Named Person plans
The Scotsman, 02 July 2015
Police Scotland criticise SNP Named Person plans
The Scotsman, 02 July 2015
Outrage over £100k PR bill to promote ‘state snoopers’
Scottish Daily Mail, 01 July 2015
Confusion over plans to appoint ‘named person’ for every child in Scotland
Herald Scotland, 01 July 2015
Herald View — Getting it right for youngsters
Herald Scotland, 01 July 2015
Named person plans clarity sought
Press and Journal, 01 July 2015
Listen: Callers flood BBC with opposition to Named Person plans
No2NP, 03 July 2015
Scotland’s national police force has warned about a “lack of clarity” in the Named Person plans and highlighted complications surrounding the sharing of sensitive information.
Police Scotland said the new law would also have “cost implications” and raised fears about the forces capacity to cope with the demands of overseeing the scheme.
Chief Superintendent Alan Waddell, one of the forces most senior police officers, raised the concerns in a formal submission to the Scottish Police Authority’s corporate risk register.
Waddell said there may not be “efficient or secure systems” in place to “manage wellbeing concerns” and also warned that such “significant change for all authorities including Police Scotland” could make it harder to identify at risk children.
He added that Police Scotland’s “confidence and reputation may be negatively impacted” due to the lack of clarity about what the force’s role would be in presiding over the scheme.
Waddell said: “There is a lack of clarity as to the expectations, roles and responsibilities; therefore it is unknown at this time if current systems, models and process in PSoS [Police Scotland] can support this legislative change.”
Commenting on the issue of sharing of sensitive information he said: “Police Scotland does not currently have a consistent process on how such risk and concerns are identified, triaged managed and shared.
“In the absence of a national functioning Named Person Service, there is a concern that partners do not have efficient or secure systems in place to receive and manage such notifications.”
Waddell also highlighted the inconsistency that youngsters will have Named Persons until they are 18, but then many will be dealt with by adult courts as opposed to the children’s hearing system.
Waddell said: “This is a significant change for all authorities, including PS and requires a review of all interdependent policies and processes which impact/refer to children and young people to ensure cognisance of legislative change.”
The officer leading on public protection issues, Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, stressed that the force did not oppose the legislation and that they were looking at ways of overcoming complications detailed in the risk register.
NO2NP supporter, Liz Smith MSP, said the intervention from Police Scotland showed the force was “very sceptical” about the Named Person scheme.
She said it was extremely concerning and telling that “the very organisations who are supposed to make the policy work are now very sceptical that it can work in practice”.
“It’s just another example of why the Named Person nonsense which is peddled by the Scottish Government flies in the face of common sense.
“It is very clear now that the SNP scheme lacks guidance and showcases just how sinister the policy is with the named person having too much power.”
Police highlight ‘concerns’ over how to implement SNPs controversial Named Persons scheme, 02 July 2015
Police Scotland criticise SNP Named Person plans, 02 July 2015
An editorial in a newspaper that supports the Named Person scheme has expressed concerns about the plans and called on the Scottish Government to revisit the threshold for the Named Person.
In a leader comment accompanying a front page article, Herald Scotland concluded: “Above all the change in the threshold for intervention from the more appropriate “risk of serious harm” to the vague “concern over welfare” should be reconsidered.
The paper said it had consistently supported the Named Person scheme “but as always with well-intended laws the devil lies in the detail or, more usually, the legislative guidelines”.
In the editorial it said “we report with concern today the findings which show that the consultation over the guidelines issued on the legislation shows that even among the organisations directly involved only 55% describe these as clear”.
It stated: “Among health boards, royal colleges, local authorities and third sector bodies, almost half do not believe the guidelines are adequate. The issues are not minor – clarity over the named person (NP) role, around when parents can be excluded from decisions, what happens when the relationship between the NP and family breaks down, these are all big questions.
The paper also said there had been a “failure to clarify the terms of intervention”, pointed out “pragmatic concerns” such as the extra workload on “already hard-pressed health visitors and head teachers”, and raised questions about human rights concerns for parents.
NO2NP spokesman said the consultation responses indicated the growing strength of public opinion against the proposals and added:
“The fact is, when the public get a chance to have their say about the Named Person, it becomes very clear they don’t like it. Parents hijacked the recent government PR event at Hampden and hammered civil servants with awkward questions about the Named Person. Now it looks like parents have hijacked this consultation to start a fight back against the Named Person scheme. On some questions, these individuals are almost unanimous in their disagreement with the Government. The Government analysis tries to sweep these figures under the rug but there is not getting away from it: the public do not like the Named Person.
“What is clear from the consultation is that people are afraid. Afraid of unnecessary and unwarranted breaches of their family privacy. Afraid the Named Person will be unaccountable. The Government analysis countenances “clarifying the circumstances” in which the Named Person can “exclude” parents from decision making. We are not talking about ‘at risk’ children where, of course, social services can make decisions over the heads of abusive or neglectful parents. No. The job of the Named Person is to monitor and enforce children’s happiness according to a Government checklist. The official information leaflet for parents says the Named Person can intervene in decisions about decorating a child’s bedroom or what they watch on TV. Is that the kind of decision from which parents might be “excluded”?
“And how can the Government still talk as if there is any scope for an “opt out” when their own lawyer told the Court of Session that allowing families to opt out would “defeat the purpose of the scheme”. There is no opt out in the legislation so how can there be one in the guidance?
“The Government document repeatedly highlights ‘organisational’ responses and ignores members of the public in order to scrape together 55% support for their Named Person guidance. But 98% of responses from individuals opposed it. Governments are infamous for trying to spin statistics but this is shocking.
Herald View — Getting it right for youngsters
Around ninety parents, children and young people gathered at Hampden Park in Glasgow last Saturday to hear the Scottish government explain what their ‘named person’ scheme is all about.
The wheels appear to have fallen off the PR wagon though, as parent after parent took Phil Raines, Head of the Scottish Government’s Child Protection Policy Team, by surprise with their ‘off-message’ feedback.
• Why had the Government ploughed ahead with this scheme given the opposition?
• Why there had been no consultations with parents before now?
• Why was Highland Council‘s Bill Alexander’s word accepted on the success of the Pathfinder, when it had clearly not worked for many?
To his credit, Mr Raines accepted they had got it wrong and there was a lot more they need to think about. But if he thought his attempt to dress up GIRFEC as being about support, not intervention (although the concept of “early intervention” is referred to frequently in the Government’s draft guidance), would put parent’s minds at rest, he was mistaken – the questions kept coming.
• How are the professionals involved going to be trained?
• How will they be taught to work together across agencies using a common language, particularly when they are currently so bad at it?
They raised the issue of too many people being involved in sharing information and pointed out that this would only get worse when the legislation comes into force next year. (No comment from Phil Raines at this point, but he was seen taking copious notes.)
Further questions were asked about the funding of the scheme and managing complaints.
• How will it be maintained?
• Where is the money coming from now? Where will it come from in the future?
But there was no action plan for the future in terms of funding – not even a plan for a plan!
• How will a Named Person and any complaints against them be reviewed and monitored and who will do the monitoring?
• Who will train the monitors?
• Where do families fit in when there is a breakdown between the monitor and the Named Person?
Lots of good questions, but no answers except: “we have to re-think; we have realised it’s a larger issue than we had thought”.
But these determined parents weren’t finished yet.
They insisted that no local authority should launch or roll-out any aspect of the scheme on their own timetable. There must be only one launch date, the programmes already being rolled out by authorities such as Perth & Kinross and Forth Valley, must be pushed back. Everyone must stop the roll out until parental agreement has been reached – it can’t be launched before that.
By this time the ‘ideas’ board at the front had so many post-it notes on it, they were falling off! No wonder it will be three months or more before they write all this up for the participants.
Next it was the turn of the GIRFEC Guide, distributed to delegates before the event, to get short shrift. You may recall from a previous NO2NP blog that this is the information pack which stated that the named person would ensure that children have “what they need to have a good life”, including a say in how their bedroom is decorated and what they watch on TV.
Several parents were extremely angry as they pointed out that the illustration for a ‘safe place’ in the guide of a modern, semi-detached two-storey home did not reflect the reality for many. Was the Government saying that those parents who brought up their children on the 14th floor of a tower block were not providing a safe place for their children?
How, they asked, could such a broad statement about what a ‘safe’ place was go out to parents? How will a named person be expected to judge a family as being in a ‘safe’ place? How realistic is it to define ‘safe’ or ‘happy’ or ‘feel good’ anyway. Answer? ‘We’ll go back and look at the imaging being used’. In other words – we’ll do some window dressing rather than sort out the real problem.
And that was the recurring theme. At the end of the day parents were left with the clear impression that when it comes to GIRFEC there are plenty of questions but precious little in the way of answers.
The Arran Suite at the Holiday Inn, East Kilbride, was filled to capacity for the latest NO2NP Roadshow event before the summer break.
Community paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham told those gathered that concerns about the scheme were far more than questioning a different health model or budgeting constraints: it is about scrutinising families and undermining parental autonomy, which is the basis for a democratic society, she said.
She went on to explain that the role of the community paediatrician has been redefined by this legislation. While previously 80% of her work was about various disabilities in children, and only 20% about vulnerable children, now 70-80% of her work has to do with assessing vulnerability through the SHANARRI ‘wellbeing’ indicators.
SHANARRI stands for; safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.
She finished by saying that she and many of her colleagues were very concerned about the new obligation to share confidential information.
Next up was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who said she had watched a video on South Lanarkshire Council’s website about young children and the importance of good attachment. Yet nothing was said about parents and children or families.
Lesley went on to explain – and display – the 13 pages of “outcome signifiers” to wellbeing that the University of Edinburgh had drawn up. South Lanarkshire Council had also produced 398 pages of guidance for named persons and Lesley queried whether everyone would interpret it the same way. The guidance estimates that 20-30% of children and young people will require additional input from state agencies.
Lesley expressed her concern that there is no facility for parents or children to disagree with the Named Person’s professional assessment of what is “needed” and parents will have no control over the ever-changing standard of parenting to which they will be held.
There was a very lively and extended Q&A, where several people questioned whether Named Persons knew anything about the real world of parenting, especially when some of them may have no children of their own.
The NO2NP Roadshow will be taking a break for a few weeks over the summer, but do watch out for further events we have planned for later in the year!
In the meantime, a big thank you to everyone who has come to these Roadshows – please continue to tell your friends about the campaign and encourage them to sign the petition.
Parents will be told at a training day today that their children will be monitored by state officials who will “check every child has what they need to have a good life”.
Organisers behind the ‘GetLive GIRFEC Event For Parents’ were accused of bribing parents into supporting the Named Person scheme when it was revealed they were offering £25 vouchers and free travel and refreshments, along with free childcare, to attend the event.
In a leaflet, ‘An Easy Read Guide To… Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC)’, sent to delegates ahead of today’s event, the state benchmark of a “good life” is set out for parents in detail.
GIRFEC is the policy behind the Named Person scheme.
Explaining its SHANARRI “wellbeing” indicators, the booklet tells parents there are “8 things every child needs to have a good life”.
SHANARRI stands for; safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.
The leaflet instructs parents about what they should and should not do in order to fulfil these Government parenting standards. It makes clear that the job of the Named Person – and other officials like social workers and doctors – is to check parents are complying with these standards.
It states: “People who work with your child will check…”
– “Your child gets praise when they do well”
– “Your child does activities they like to do”
– “Your child gets a say in things like how their room is decorated and what to watch on TV”
– “You trust your child to do the right thing”
– “Your child can be part of a group like Scouts, Brownies or a football group if they want to”
The leaflet also says state officials will check which people are around your child, where your child lives and what is going on in your child’s life. They will even “think about what is good about your child’s environment”, and “think about what could be better”.
A spokesman for NO2NP said: “We have warned all along that the Named Person scheme would undermine parents’ responsibility for their own children and allow state officials unprecedented powers to interfere with family life.
“This leaflet confirms that the Named Person is intended to take a highly intrusive role in ordinary family life. It’s effectively an admission that critics of the scheme have been right all along. “
“The list of things the Named Person – and doctors, nurses, teachers social workers – ‘will check’ is outrageous. It is exactly the kind of invasive behaviour we’ve been warning about.
“For example, if a child doesn’t like the colour scheme or wants to watch films containing horrendous violence or sex scenes, the child can complain to the Named Person who then adjudicates on the family’s decisions about décor and who holds the TV remote control. It is absolutely outrageous.
“In the past the Scottish Government and their officials have attempted to dismiss opponents of this scheme for exaggerating its impact.
“Clearly, we were right all along and they have been trying to keep us all in the dark about what they really intend.
“Unless parents wake up quickly to what the Named Person is really about and make their voices heard, many of them will face a level of state monitoring of the minutiae of parenting that is unprecedented in our history.
“This is not about protecting vulnerable children. It is not about helping families who want help. It is about policing parenting according to a state ‘happiness’ index. Families cannot thrive under that kind of ‘big brother’ scrutiny.”
There was a good turnout at the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries on Wednesday night for the latest stop of the NO2NP Roadshow.
Those present heard Gordon Macdonald from CARE for Scotland explain why the universality of the Named Person scheme was both unhelpful and unnecessary. He said that it had been introduced into the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill quite late in the day and MSPs hadn’t had much opportunity to scrutinise it. However, many were now having second thoughts about it.
He went on to say that there is a view in Holyrood that the state has primary responsibility for children, but he said it was “the job of the state to support the nation’s parents, not the job of parents to support the state”.
The next speaker was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who started by saying she had not come across a single parent who had asked for the Named Person scheme. None of the young parents present said they had asked for it either.
Lesley also mentioned the new ‘super database’. The Scottish Government plans to introduce this in conjunction with the Named Person scheme, and it will have every child’s full medical information included in it.
Lesley finished by explaining that NHS Dumfries and Galloway has stated that a child will have a Named Person from its conception.
There was a very lively Q&A, during which the unworkable nature of the scheme was highlighted.
The final NO2NP Roadshow event before the summer break will take place at the Holiday Inn, Stewartfield Way in East Kilbride next Monday, 22nd June, at 7.30pm, when paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham will be one of the speakers – do plan to come and let your friends know about it too!
Snapshot of Dumfries Roadshow
The latest addition to the Scottish Government’s parenting toolbox comes in the form of a tidy tick list. The one-size-fits-all Government guide to bringing up happy and healthy children was branded ‘sinister’ in the Mail On Sunday, which broke the news at the weekend.
The paper reported that concerns may be raised over a child’s ‘well-being’ if it was found that a filling was required at the dentist, if the child was found to be disruptive at school, or if the child didn’t fancy helping with voluntary work.
The checklist is part of the controversial Named Person scheme and designed to help the state official ‘monitor’ and ‘assess’ children as they grow up.
Some other ‘indicators’ which could trigger an investigation involving social workers includes a child’s failure to display ‘positive attitudes to others’ sexuality’, failure by the child to display general optimism, or if he or she is seen to commit sporting fouls.
This is a worryingly broad list of potential ‘indicators’, with a threshold so low and so vague that most ordinary parents could find themselves ‘under investigation’.
Parenting cannot simply be made into a state-sanctioned formula or equation. Every family is different. Parents hold a diverse range of views determining what they believe is best for their children.
And every child is unique, with their own gifts and temperaments. The majority of regular mums and dads recognise this and try to care for each child with a personal understanding that only loving parents can do.
Parenting is so much more than a tick box exercise.
NO2NP supporter, Liz Smith MSP, said: “This checklist is a sinister example of how Named Persons would work. Some examples on the checklist simply cannot or should not be measured.
“The vast majority of parents across Scotland do a thoroughly good job of bringing up their children and therefore have no need nor any wish to have a Named Person for their children.”
But a spokesman for the Scottish Government defended the checklist and insisted: “This guide is a tool for professionals – senior teachers or health workers. It is a list of issues that might be taken into account when considering the well-being of a child or young person.”
SOURCE: Scottish Mail On Sunday, 14 June 2015
The latest NO2NP Roadshow event was held on a beautiful, sunny evening in Galashiels last night.
Gordon Macdonald, who is CARE for Scotland’s Parliamentary Officer, spoke first. He said that the family is the fundamental unit in society and, as such, deserves respect. This respect for the family is “integral” to key human rights documents, but we have seen a reinterpretation of them in recent years which marginalises parents. The Named Person legislation is a really significant shift away from child welfare to a wellbeing model that is very vague and broad. We are seeing a fundamental shift in the ideology of how the state relates to all children, he explained.
Next up was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who as usual highlighted what the local authority for the area was doing about the scheme. Borders Council has devised a “Cootie Catcher” so that children can learn how to assess their wellbeing. The Council has also created a snakes and ladders type game called “On the trail of the Wellbeing Snail”, where cards are selected when a player lands on a square that determines whether they make progress or go backwards.
The notorious SHANARRI wellbeing indicators of safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included are key to this game and are intended to show children when a “wellbeing outcome” has been achieved. Examples included whether a parent had washed their child’s gym kit the night before and whether a parent had listened to their child if they were upset.
Lesley went on to explain the Wellbeing Wheel, the My World triangle, the Resilience Matrix and Genogram, all part of the Scottish Government’s “toolkit” for assessing, analysing and addressing every child’s perceived “wellbeing” needs.
After Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute brought everyone up to date about the judicial review appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session last week, there was the usual lively Q&A, when those who had come raised a wide range of concerns about the scheme.
The NO2NP Roadshow will be calling at the Gracefield Arts Centre, Edinburgh Road, Dumfries next Wednesday, 17th June at 7.30pm – we look forward to seeing some of you there!
During last week’s appeal hearing against the Named Person law, the Scottish Government’s QC told the court that if a young girl was in hospital and discovered to be pregnant then the Named Person would definitely be contacted…but didn’t seem to know whether the parents would be informed.
Alistair Clark QC, representing the Scottish Government, was meant to be defending the scheme but instead managed to present a convincing case as to why the Named Person would be damaging for families.
Clark’s comments regarding teenage pregnancy reveal one of the major flaws with the Named Person scheme – it would bypass parents.
As we reported earlier in the week Clark also told judges during the hearing that the scheme was needed because every child in Scotland was deemed to be “potentially vulnerable”.
This greatly undermines ordinary Scottish families and is chilling stuff from the Scottish Government’s QC.
Any Government scheme which puts parents in second place after the state in relation to their own children is flawed from the outset.
Aidan O’Neill QC, representing those bringing the legal challenge, said the Named Person would be “a state functionary who has the power to interfere in the lives of every child in Scotland and in family life…the power to come between the child and their parents”.
He added that the Named Person’s powers to obtain and share confidential data on families without consent or veto constituted further interference.
The judges are currently considering their verdict, which is expected to take several weeks.
The Named Person provisions are contained in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament last year. The scheme is due to be rolled out across Scotland in 2016. Some areas of Scotland already have a non-statutory Named Person pilot scheme in operation but they do not have the full range of legal powers contained in the Act.
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.
Last week’s appeal hearing rehearsed many concerning reasons why the Named Person scheme is not compatible with a free and democratic society, but perhaps the most revealing and worrying comment came from the Scottish Government’s QC.
Pressed by Lord Malcolm on why every child needed to have a Named Person, when not all of them were at risk, Alistair Clark QC, representing the Scottish Government, stated that every child was deemed to be “potentially vulnerable”.
Mr Clark’s words expose the thinking behind these intrusive plans.
A NO2NP spokesman said: “The assumption that all Scottish children are potentially vulnerable is patronising to all ordinary parents trying to do their best to bring up their children.
“The Scottish Government is saying to normal mums and dads that they all need the state to be a co-parent to stop them leaving their child potentially vulnerable.
“This unwarranted intrusion into family life is undermining and unnecessary.”
During the appeal hearing last week Aidan O’Neill QC, representing those bringing the legal challenge against the Named Person, addressed conflict between respect for the family and responsibility for the protection of children from harm.
He said there was no pressing social need requiring interference in the lives of every family and said: “The overwhelming majority of children are not neglected and the Named Person scheme subverts family life and supplants parents.”
He said: “We accept there is a legitimate state interest in the protection of the vulnerable, but this is not just dealing with the vulnerable, it’s dealing with all children.
“Most families do not need the state to get involved. Some parents – a tiny minority – do cause harm to their children but that does not justify appointing a named person to every child.”
Mr O’Neill pointed out that the Named Person scheme had been drawn up to promote children’s ‘wellbeing’ – a concept which, according to the Government, can include everything from mental health to a “wider vision of happiness”. He responded, “That’s what parents do and have done through the ages. It’s not the state’s job.
Mr O’Neill raised the concern that the central assumption behind the scheme is that “the state knows best”.
Campaigners opposing the Named Person scheme are back in court today for an appeal hearing after their legal challenge was rejected last year.
Lord Pentland rejected arguments that MSPs had exceeded their powers, breaching human rights rules and data protection laws, in a Judicial Review aimed at having the legislation overturned.
Now three judges will consider the proposals again.
The legal action is being brought by The Christian Institute, CARE, TYMES Trust and the Family Education Trust, with the support of academics and individual parents, all of which support the NO2NP campaign.
Community Law Advice Network (Clan Childlaw), a charity that provides legal help for children, also raised concerns about the scheme and announced it will intervene in the case.
Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute, said: “We’re asking the court to make a ruling that the imposition of a Named Person on every child in Scotland is unconstitutional and a breach of the right to a private family life.
He said they wanted the “court to look behind the Government’s rhetoric and see how this is not about protecting vulnerable children. It is about making the state a co-parent, with power to second-guess and over-ride parenting decisions about what makes a child happy. It’s Government-approved-parenting writ large”.
He added: “The trigger for intervention by the Named Person is not where there is a ‘risk of harm’. The threshold at which the Named Person can intervene in the lives of Scottish families is merely the ‘promotion of well-being’.
“The Named Person is, in effect, legally empowered to police the happiness of Scottish children. He can access and share their confidential medical data, their school records, he can question children and give them advice and supply services to them without their parents’ consent – all on the basis of what he thinks is most likely to make them happy. That is an outrage. Thousands of people across Scotland know it is an outrage, and that’s why they’ll all be hoping our judicial review succeeds.”
Graham Grant, Home Affairs Editor for the Scottish Daily Mail has written a stark warning against the Named Person scheme, branding it a “Stalinist blueprint for a happy childhood”.
Commenting on recent remarks by Bob Fraser, the civil servant driving forward the Named Person scheme, he said: “It may have sounded at first like a calm explanation of a sensible policy. But, in reality, what was presented was a chilling manifesto for effectively outsourcing parenting to the state and to its legion of officials”.
He continued: “In essence, government officials have been quietly drawing up guidelines for a happy childhood – a kind of Stalinist, state-endorsed blueprint for a healthy and contented upbringing, which must be adhered to at all costs.
“This idea of compulsory compliance with a set of government-imposed ideals is, of course, a facet of totalitarian states, which rely on the micromanagement and strict regulation of private and family life.
“The ‘enforcers’ are the named persons themselves – mainly health visitors and head teachers – who will log perceived deficiencies in the child, perhaps demanding confidential medical records to back up their concerns”.
Fraser, the Getting it Right for Every Child health adviser in the Scottish Government’s Better Life Chances unit, suggested parents could be judged on how much they show their child ‘love, hope and spirituality’.
Grant commented on this point stating: “By setting arbitrary yardsticks based on ‘love, hope and spirituality’ – which, in any event, may seem more appropriate for a New Age commune – the named persons hope to uncover ‘problems’ that previously did not exist.
“Parents may soon be asked imponderable questions such as: ‘Have you thought about imbuing your child with more hope?’ Or: ‘Did you realise your child was falling short on the “spirituality” index?’
“Hope is a subjective concept and once the state is in charge of its definition, the scope for its abuse becomes clear. Ultimately, why should the state have a clearer idea of what hope and happiness mean than parents, or anyone else?”
Grant also commented on the “scale of intrusion” the Named Person scheme poses warning that it is “far greater than most people realise”.
He writes: “Pivotal to the smooth operation of the system is the free flow of personal information between public bodies. The named person can demand sensitive personal information, for example, from the NHS, if they believe the circumstances demand it.
“In fact, the named person will be assigned to children while they are still in the womb. Yet how many prospective parents are aware of this horrifying detail – an act of antenatal appropriation by state officials?”
Source: The Scottish Daily Mail, 02 June 2015
A senior Roman Catholic Archbishop in Scotland has warned that the Named Person scheme will lead to “unwarranted interference in family life”.
Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said: “The common good of society depends on the stability of family life. We share the widely expressed reservations of many who fear some provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act could permit unwarranted interference in family life due to the broad nature of the powers of the ‘named persons service’’ and the low threshold set for triggering the sharing of information about children among state agencies.
“While recognising the good intentions behind such efforts, we hope the Government will act in a proportionate and focused way, with due respect to the autonomy and privacy of the family.”
Source: Scottish Daily Mail, 1 Jun 2015
Media coverage of the NO2NP petition launch and Action Day
‘Named person’ opponents step up campaign
The Scotsman, 31 May 2015
‘Named person’ opponents campaign
The Courier, 31 May 2015
‘Named person’ opponents campaign
Press and Journal, 31 May 2015
‘Named person’ critics step up campaign
BBC News, 31 May 2015
Fresh campaign to fight ‘state guardian’ scheme
The Sunday Times (£), 31 May 2015
Campaign against ‘named person’ plan steps up ahead of court ruling
STV, 31 May 2015
Protesters gathering names against named persons law in Dundee
The Courier, 30 May 2015
On Saturday NO2NP officially launched its online petition to oppose the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme. Volunteers took to the streets of Dundee to help raise awareness of the campaign by giving out leaflets to the public and gathering signatures for the petition.
A team of volunteers were also out in Kirkintilloch, the constituency of the Minister for Children and Young People.
The petition doubled in size over the launch weekend, and now has more than 4,500 signatures. Sign and share the petition here.
The Action Day and petition launch comes ahead of the appeal hearing by campaigners opposing the Named Person scheme, due to be heard in the Court of Session this Wednesday and Thursday.
A spokesman for NO2NP said: “We remain deeply concerned about the threats to the human rights of families to their privacy in their own homes as well as the breaches of data protection laws as the state passes confidential family information to and from different public bodies.
“The state thinks the named person – a health visitor, a teacher or other professional – can fulfil the role better than mums and dads which is ridiculous.
“It’s vitally important that the higher courts consider this issue, because it’s driving a coach and horses through parents’ rights and private family life.”
NO2NP Action Day: Dundee and Kirkintilloch, Saturday 30th May.
Falkirk was the latest stop for the NO2NP Roadshow last night, when local supporters of the campaign were given the lowdown on the state guardian scheme.
Dr Stuart Waiton from Abertay University explained some of the key developments in social policy over the last 15 years in relation to child welfare. The concepts of abuse, vulnerability and early intervention have become deeply embedded in the minds of many strategists and there is a feeling that parents cannot advise their children properly without first receiving advice from professionals. This is known as “third way parenting”.
Lesley Scott, from TYMES Trust, pointed out that contrary to the contentions of Acting Minister for Children and Young People, Fiona McLeod, parents across the country did not ask for the Named Person scheme. Lesley went on to explain how the Scottish Government’s pilot of the scheme in the Highlands led to nearly 8,000 children (1 in 5) being put on a “child’s plan”.
During a lively Q&A session it was asked if teachers could opt out of being Named Persons. This was a very significant change in the terms and conditions of their employment, yet some of the teaching unions have yet to indicate their detailed views on this matter.
The Roadshow will be calling at the Elmwood Golf Club, Cupar at 7.30pm on Tuesday next week, when MSP Liz Smith hopes to be one of the speakers – do plan to join us, if you live in the area!
The campaign saw strong support in Elgin last night as concerned parents and individuals, with some traveling quite a distance, turned out for the latest NO2NP Roadshow.
Nigel Kenny of The Christian Institute explained that the campaign was made up of a broad coalition of organisations and individuals from academia, charities, education, medicine, politics and social work. He said all those involved have a shared concern for the importance and autonomy of the family in raising the next generation.
Videos were shown, the first explaining the background to the campaign, and the second from First Minister’s Questions last week, when NO2NP supporter Liz Smith MSP challenged Nicola Sturgeon over Clan (Community Law Advice Network) Childlaw’s concerns about data sharing.
Lesley Scott from Tymes Trust then spoke about the blueprint for every child’s life that has been planned under the GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) model, including the Wellbeing Wheel, the My World Triangle and the Resilience Matrix. She pointed out that Edinburgh University had identified no fewer than 304 outcomes that could arise from the SHANARRI “wellbeing” indicators.
Nigel finished off the talks with an update on the judicial review appeal (due to be heard in Edinburgh on 3rd and 4th June) and some tips on how people can get involved with the campaign.
There was a lively and extended Q&A at the end, where people expressed their deep concerns about the negative impact that the scheme will have on families, schools and society at large.
The NO2NP Roadshow will be stopping off at Falkirk next on Wednesday 27th May, when we’ll be at the Best Western Park Hotel in Camelon Road at 7.30pm. Hope to see you there if you live in and around the area!
The latest NO2NP Roadshow event was held in the Aberdeen Arts Centre on Monday (11th May), where one local woman’s run in with an emanation of the Named Person scheme at her daughter’s school was raised during Q&A as a matter of concern. Even more concern was expressed when it was revealed that a GP would be obliged to share confidential patient details about, for example, a mother’s struggle with depression with her child’s Named Person.
After a video was shown about the judicial review in the Court of Session, Abertay University sociology lecturer Dr Stuart Waiton spoke about the disjuncture between the people and the powerful and how, over the past century, children were no longer being seen in the context of their families and government was increasingly seeing its role as one of “risk management”.
Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust then made reference to the quote in a recent newspaper article by Acting Minister for Children and Young People that the Named Person legislation “is about making sure that we are doing everything in our power to protect vulnerable children.” Lesley then pointed out that the word ‘vulnerable’ does not appear anywhere in the legislation or in the draft statutory guidance. Instead, she said “this legislation is about measuring the wellbeing of each and every child.”
Some practical points on how people can be involved in helping the NO2NP campaign were then shared by Nigel Kenny of The Christian Institute, before a lively Q&A, always one of the high points of these Roadshows.
Our next event is in Elgin this coming Monday (18th May) at the Laighmoray Hotel, Maisondieu Road, Elgin, IV30 1QR at 7.30pm – please do come along and find out more about the campaign.
On 23rd April the NO2NP Roadshow hosted a well-attended meeting in Portobello on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Dr Stuart Waiton chaired the event and spoke of the decline in the view of the family as an intrinsically good institution, instead it is now seen as the source of most children’s problems.
The first speaker was social work consultant Maggie Mellon, who said that it was “absurd” to assume that every child in a family “is potentially at risk and that information must be shared equally about all of them just in case”.
Then Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, representing families of young ME sufferers, spoke about the shift in the Named Person legislation to focus on wellbeing meaning that “the threshold for intervention in a child’s life has been drastically lowered from ‘at risk of significant harm’ to that of a worry over something as intangible as wellbeing. This means that significant decisions are open to personal interpretation and bias on the part of the named person.”
Finally, Nigel Kenny of The Christian Institute gave some practical points, as well as an update on the judicial review appeal, which has now been fast-tracked to be heard by the Inner House on 3rd and 4th June.
Last Wednesday night (21st January) the NO2NP roadshow resumed for the first meeting of the new year at Howden Park Centre in Livingston, West Lothian – the constituency of the new Education Secretary, Angela Constance, whom those present were urged to contact.
The main speaker of the night was Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, who represent young ME sufferers. She said that the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act fails to allow for non-engagement, despite a ministerial assurance to the contrary.
The audience also heard from Bonnybridge-based father of four, James McIntosh, who told how he had received a letter from NHS Forth Valley saying that all his children have a named person who would be sent future letters and reports. As a result of press involvement, NHS Forth Valley backed down.
The meeting was chaired by Dr Stuart Waiton from Abertay University in Dundee, who said that the named person policy is sold on the basis that it will keep children safe, while stating his view that the policy is in fact detrimental to children who do need support.
This same theme was highlighted in a story in the Sunday Express newspaper over the weekend, relating to concerns raised by a senior police officer. According to the paper:
“Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham told ministers and senior officials that the named-person scheme could see the ‘focus’ of child protection efforts moving away from ‘high-risk children’. The comments emerged in the minutes of a Scottish Government meeting, but a spokesman said they could not offer any further clarification as ‘no detailed notes were taken’.”
The paper went on to report that it had “lodged a Freedom of Information request asking for more details, but the Scottish Government has been unable to comply.”
The next dates for the NO2NP roadshow are Greenock (Beacon Arts Centre) on 5 February and Dunfermline (Carnegie Conference Centre) on 11 February. Both events begin at 7:30pm and are free of charge. We hope to see you there.
Last night (26th November) the NO2NP roadshow visited Montrose. A lively meeting was held which was addressed by Lesley Scott of Tymes (Young ME sufferers) Trust and Alison Preuss of Schoolhouse.
Lesley Scott said that the named person scheme – which she warned was state control of children – usurps the role of parents and lowers the threshold for intervention. She explained that though the Children’s Minister, Aileen Campbell, had said that parents don’t need to engage, this is not in the legislation and there is no clear explanation of what non-engagement means. She warned that those who did seek to withdraw may be subject to further intervention.
Alison Preuss described the relevant section of the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act as a “tartan Trojan horse” and said that no family was now safe from routine state intervention. She also spoke about the ‘ChildrenCount’ surveys which had been carried out in Angus and other parts of Scotland in recent weeks.
Last night’s meeting was the eighth roadshow held by the NO2NP campaign since August. If you would like the roadshow to come to your area, please contact us at email@example.com, and we may be able to arrange this.
This week, the long-awaited judicial review of the Named Person provisions of the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act is being heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. With the law having been passed by the Scottish Parliament earlier in the year, the only route left to stop the implementation of the scheme is via the courts.
Several of the organisations who are supporting the NO2NP campaign are spear-heading the legal action, namely The Christian Institute, Tymes Trust, CARE and Family Education Trust.
Leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC is representing the petitioners in court. He has previously stated that “the blanket nature of this [named person] provision constitutes a disproportionate and unjustified interference with the right to respect for individual families’ private and family life”.
The case this week is focusing on four key legal arguments:
- Data protection: The compatibility of the Named Person legislation with data protection rules.
- Privacy: Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) entitles people to a private and family life.
- Education: Parents have a right to have their children educated in accordance with their beliefs.
- Religious liberty: Article 9 of ECHR protects the religious freedom of parents and children.
Following the successful launch of the NO2NP campaign at a packed meeting in Edinburgh in June, we are delighted to announce a series of regional road show events over the coming weeks. The dates are:
GLASGOW – Thursday 21 August
DUNDEE – Wednesday 27 August
STIRLING – Friday 29 August
INVERNESS – Wednesday 1 October
Events will feature contributions from a range of experts such as Dr Stuart Waiton (Abertay University), Maggie Mellon (social work consultant/writer), Liz Smith MSP and Dr Jenny Cunningham (Community paediatrician). All events will include a time of discussion where attendees can put their questions to the speakers.
Entry is free and the events are open to all. Please come along to one or more of the dates and spread the word.
Full details of times and venues are available here.
Leading sociologist Dr Frank Furedi (Emeritus Professor of sociology at the University of Kent) has lambasted the named person scheme in a recent piece for The Independent. Dr Furedi writes:
“Arguably, the most disturbing manifestation of the politicisation of parenting is the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act. This grotesque act empowers the state to appoint a ‘named person’ for every child, from birth to the age of 18. The duty of this state-appointed named person will be to act as the child’s guardian.
“Scotland’s minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell, thinks that this erosion of parental authority is OK and offers reassurance with the not very reassuring words that ‘we recognise that parents also have a role’. ‘Also’? If the experience of the past 15 years is anything to go by, political intervention in child rearing is likely to become more prescriptive and intrusive.”
Read the article in full here
The Named Person plans could be “corrosive” to relationships between parents and children, warns sociologist and columnist Tiffany Jenkins.
Writing in The Scotsman, she said: “It is a scheme that communicates to children that their mums and dads are not to be trusted, that a different adult – one with a professional qualification – is better equipped to look out for them than their own family members.
“This greatly undermines the role and place of the parents in a child’s life. What could be more corrosive to relations than that?”
Jenkins believes: “Child protection has gone too far and is changing all our lives for the worse”.
“When it comes to children, we no longer weigh up the likelihood of a negative outcome and act accordingly, we organise every aspect of our lives around the expectation that the worst will happen. Our nightmares dictate how we live”, she asserted.
She commented that children are “innocent, ignorant, and vulnerable, though not as much as child protection zealots would have us think: children can be strong, robust and agents of their own lives in a small but important way”.
“Children need to be able to spread their wings and have the space to try life out”, she added. “And they need adults – and especially their parents – to hold the authority to take care of them, check they are doing okay, and guide them as they grow.
“At the moment, too many laws, policies and child protection agencies stand in the way of this. It is time for the child protection industry to butt out of our lives.”
Legal papers challenging the Scottish Government’s Named Person plans were lodged at Edinburgh’s Court of Session yesterday. There is widespread opposition to the proposals and concerned parents and other groups turned up to help deliver the documents under the spotlight of the media.
Here is a round up of the news reports.
Scottish child guardian bid faces legal challenge
SNP’s state guardian plan is ‘against the law’ say court challengers
Scottish Daily Express
Nationalists’ nanny state must leave families alone
Scottish Daily Express
Legal bid to scrap the state snoopers
Scottish Daily Mail
Opponents of ‘named person’ policy begin legal challenge
The Telegraph (Scotland)
Dangerous move by the state
The Press and Journal
Legal bid to tackle Scots guardian bill
The Press and Journal
Challenge to guardian law in court
The Courier & Advertiser
Child guardian challenge lodged
The Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra
Video: Named Person legal action launched
The Christian Institute
By Paula Murray
THE Scottish Government has earmarked £40million to hire an extra 500 health visitors over the next four years. They will be there, according to ministers, to offer support and advice to families with young children.
It all sounds rather sweet. But when you consider this is all to do with the scheme to appoint “state guardians” to the country’s youngsters, the development begins to appear a little sinister.
Of course, there are people who are simply no good at bringing up their children, and it is for this reason that these measures are being taken.
But the vast majority of parents are responsible mothers and fathers who want nothing but the best for their children. The idea that the state should appoint an additional pair of eyes to monitor a child’s wellbeing has echoes of China, the Soviet Union and East Germany where everybody snooped on everyone else to ensure the communist values imposed on the nation were duly appreciated and followed.
Although I am childless, I feel uneasy about the idea that an outsider – whether a teacher, health visitor or someone else – is appointed as a child’s “extra parent”.
What if there is a fall-out between the state guardian and the child’s family? What if there is a disagreement as to what is best for the youngster? Who gets the final word? The state?
Would it not be the easiest thing for the appointed individual to make the parents’ lives hell should they so choose to do so?
Social workers and health professionals are equipped – or at least they should be – to deal with any problem cases and step in if necessary.
I don’t for a moment believe that these Big Brother plans will actually benefit anyone. If anything, they will end up interfering with the rights of both parents and children.
There is no way to opt out from the “named person” scheme, or to ask for somebody else to be appointed for your child – they will simply be there every step of the way until the child reaches the age of 18.
So in other words, a teenager can get married, leave school, get a job and start paying taxes, drive a car, join the armed forces or even have children their own, and their state guardian will still be peering over their shoulder.
I simply cannot fathom what good it will do. It is legalised spying on family life and I don’t like the sound of it. Various charities and organisations agree echoes the with me.
Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) believes the state guardians will “undermine parental freedom and responsibility”.
The Law Society in Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates have warned the measures could breach European Human Rights law on privacy and family life.
But despite these concerns our ministers have ploughed ahead with the plans, with Holyrood approving the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill back in February.
Liz Smith of the Scottish Conservatives says the legislation effectively removes the parents’ primary obligation of looking after their children and gives it to the state. She is right.
And here is the big question – if the state snooping starts at birth, where does it end? Because it is not going to be on your 18th birthday.
‘It has echoes of China, the Soviet Union and East Germany’
Sunday 22 June 2014
The Named Person plans have been widely criticised by politicians, parents, academics, journalists, faith groups and those working in education. Here is a media round up showing the strong opposition to this proposal.
Scottish children don’t need these government spies
Guardian angels … or Big Brother?
Warning over spiralling cost of state guardian scheme
Scottish Daily Express
State spies already snoop on thousands of families
Scottish Sunday Express
Guardian bill set to face legal hurdles
The Press and Journal
Fresh opposition to child guardians plan
Conservatives warn over child state guardian plans
‘Named person’ is not needed
‘Named person’ plan faces legal challenge – Tories
Euan McColm: Stop meddling with parents’ children
Scottish ministers threatened with legal action over ‘state guardian’ plans
The Daily Telegraph
SNP bill to spy on parents is criticised by families
Scottish Daily Express
Challenge to child protection bill
The Press and Journal
Parties launch final bid to stop SNP imposing a snooper on every family
Scottish Daily Mail
MSPs have approved the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act.
They believe it will make children safer.
But the legislation means that EVERY child in Scotland – more than ONE MILLION – will each have a named professional appointed as a ‘guardian’ by the state – without the approval of their parents.
This person will oversee their interests and can intervene without the knowledge or consent of their parents. But many oppose the plan and the growing campaign against state guardians includes:
*parents concerned about their rights and privacy
*Christians who fear that their faith and beliefs will act as a trigger for state intervention
*MSPs and academics who believe that the safety of at risk children will be jeapordised by stretching resources so far.
The blanket nature of this law degrades the integrity of the family and diminishes the work of the vast majority of parents. It encourages suspicion among professionals about the dangers parents represent to their children.
Until now, families could be investigated if a child was at ‘significant risk of harm’.
Now that has changed – the definition for intervention has been dramatically lowered from ‘welfare’ to ‘wellbeing’.
It now embraces concerns about happiness, mental health, quality of life, economic status, health, educational achievement, levels of respect for the child and others.
These catch-all terms pose potential dangers allowing many more children facing minor difficulties to come on to the radar of state guardians – like health workers, nursery workers and teachers.
This threatens family life and the right of families to privacy by allowing the state unbridled access to every living room in the land.
The law also poses a threat to relationships between parents and professionals, and leads to unnecessary and destructive interventions.
And the few children at genuine risk of harm?
They may find themselves ignored along the way.
This legislation undermines parents and parental authority. It implies parents are a potential threat to their children. Further, there are major concerns about the ability of state guardians being allowed access to data from many sources, without the consent of parents.
The vast majority of parents want nothing more than what is best for their children.
They are the best defenders of their own children and do not need state appointed guardians or monitors.
They want nothing to do with the new system.
That’s why so many are saying “NO2NP”.