Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
Judges ruled that the data-sharing provisions at the heart of the scheme would breach human rights and sent the Scottish Government back to the legislative drawing board.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert said: “The new proposals confirm one of the most remarkable, ignominious and expensive U-turns in the history of the Scottish Government and a huge victory for mums, dads and children across the country and the 35,000-plus NO2NP supporters.
“They have now been forced to accept that their original draconian Big Brother proposals were an utter shambles from the start, representing an interference in family life and a fundamental breach of European human rights laws on privacy and information sharing.
“In effect they say the duty of a Named Person will be to consider whether sharing information is likely to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person. They must also then consider whether sharing that information would be compatible with data protection law, human rights law and the law of confidentiality.
“That’s a 100 per cent climbdown on their original plan of a statutory duty to share information about people’s private lives almost without restriction.
“If they’d only listened at the start, they could have saved huge amounts of time and money. They now have to retrain those who have already been trained to implement an unlawful scheme.”
A financial memorandum published alongside the new Bill suggests that the cost of retraining teachers and NHS staff will top £1m – and that is probably on the optimistic side.
In addition, crucially, the policy memorandum makes clear that the advice etc offered by a named person is voluntary and states:
“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.”
The Deputy First Minister John Swinney, speaking today, said: “We must ensure that we get it right for every child”.
But it’s quite clear they didn’t get it right – and actually got it completely wrong.
Sometimes it seems like the Scottish Government has forgotten that parents have responsibility for their children.
But the message from parents who were reached by the Government’s recent “intense engagement” (you know, the one where NO2NP were left out in the cold after Mr Swinney refused to engage with us) came through clearly: they do not want to be ignored.
Representatives at the Third Sector Organisations meeting said: “There is a need to build confidence with parents across the country and include them in the engagement. Some parents feel that this [the NP service] is being done to them and the concerns are wider than simply data sharing.”
The representatives from the Scottish Association of Social Work said that “parents should be informed about the information being shared”, a point also raised by the National Parental Engagement Steering Group.
Others described parental involvement as “essential”, noting that they “should be engaged to co-produce solutions”. Parents also wanted to be treated as ‘equal partners’ rather than sidelined when it comes to decisions about their own children.
A significant statement (well, to the Scottish Government, but not to us) came from parents and staff at HOPE for Autism: “Parents expected to be involved in discussions and decision making about assessments and support for their children and families.”
Now we just have to wait and see if the Government will listen closely to the points raised.
The Scottish Government has thrown a veil of secrecy around stalled efforts to salvage its Named Person scheme after judges declared their original plans illegal.
Education Secretary John Swinney ordered a three month “intense engagement” period after the UK Supreme Court blocked the planned implementation of the scheme from August 31 last year. Officials also stated: “Before the end of 2016, the Deputy First Minister intends to return to Parliament and announce the next steps.”
But two months into 2017 there have still been no updates from the Government. A standard reply letter saying the Minister will return to Parliament “in the new year” is still being issued by officials.
A NO2NP supporter filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request last month in a bid to secure access to the minutes of these “engagement” meetings since August last year.
Normally such minutes must be made public, but officials blocked their request, exempting the Government from handing over the data “because we intend to publish that information within 12 weeks of the date of your request” (12 January 2017).
The letter responding to the FOI request states:
“We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release because of the interest in the content of discussions at the meetings, and this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned.”
Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, who submitted the FOI request, said: “It would seem that the Scottish Government has learnt nothing over the last 3 years and is determined to repeat the same mistakes that ended up in them losing in the UK Supreme Court last year.
“Not only did they bar anyone who disagrees with the Named Person scheme from taking part in the ‘intense engagement’ in the first place, they are now refusing to even let us know what was said.
“For a Government that claims to value openness, transparency and citizen participation it has fallen far short of its aims yet again.”
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert said:
“The engagement period was really a sham consultation because Mr Swinney only wanted to deal with those who support the scheme and organisations mainly funded by the Government.
“He refused to engage with us even though we represent an important cross-section of Scottish society, huge numbers of parents and more than 35,000 people who signed our petition. We have led the public discussion on this issue for two years – we even won an award for our campaign – yet he won’t meet with us.
“The three-month ‘engagement’ has long since ended. It looks like it could be more like six or seven months – March or April 2017 – before we hear anything.”
“It just shows how difficult they are finding it to salvage their Named Person plans. The initial Government reaction to the Supreme Court ruling was to pretend we’d lost our challenge – a classic example of spin and denial.
“On the day of the ruling in July they were telling the BBC they hoped to roll out the system before the end of the 2016. By September were talking about an “ambition to work towards August 2017”. Now even that looks optimistic if they are going to bring in a Bill and get it through all its stages in Parliament – and consult on new statutory guidance to go with it – in time for the summer recess.”
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
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.
A warning about information sharing practices has been issued to local authorities and health boards by the Scottish Government, following the Supreme Court ruling.
In a statement released at the weekend by the Scottish Government it was disclosed that Named Persons have been told to “take care to reiterate the voluntary nature of any advice, information, support or help offered”.
This latest development is in contrast to last week’s public response from Deputy First Minister John Swinney, in which he claimed a Government ‘victory’, despite the judgment rendering the Named Person legislation unlawful.
The statement also revealed that Swinney had begun talks with “senior figures from the public and third sectors including NHS, local authorities and Police Scotland to discuss our next steps”.
It said the Deputy First Minister had joined a conference call following the Supreme Court ruling, involving:
• Perth and Kinross Council
• NHS Dumfries and Galloway
• Highland Council
• Children in Scotland
• National Parent Forum Scotland
• Police Scotland
• Care Inspectorate
• Education Scotland
• Information Commissioner’s Office
• Social Work Scotland
• Health Scotland
Commenting on the news, a NO2NP spokesman said the group was “sad and disappointed” that Swinney was only consulting with “those who support his government’s policy”.
The spokesman said: “As the organisation which successfully challenged the policy through the courts, we would like a meeting with the minister to place our views on the record as to why he should scrap this scheme and the pilot projects. We believe our views chime with a significant and growing number of people in Scotland.”
Following the Supreme Court decision last week serious questions have been raised over the prospect of parents suing councils which have been operating pilot schemes.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert, said: “The point is there are local authorities that have been running Named Person pilot schemes on the expectation that this law would come into force. They have in practice been sharing data at the much lower level enshrined in the Named Person law.”
“So, those local authorities should be quaking in their boots, they should be worried, very worried, about parents making subject access requests and finding out data has been shared on them in breach of the data protection and human rights law. They should be worried parents are going to sue them.”
Nobody likes a nosy parker. It’s one of the big reasons why people don’t like the Named Person scheme – state officials with unprecedented powers to interfere in family life.
But what if you were the one being asked to do the snooping? How would you feel about being legally responsible for monitoring families? What if it was your job to become a Named Person?
Teachers and health visitors
If the Named Person law comes into force, thousands of teachers and health visitors across Scotland will become Named Persons. They will be expected to carry out their new role on top of their usual duties, with no extra pay. (Teachers’ unions and health visitor unions have expressed concerns.)
If something goes wrong, they will no doubt take the blame – especially considering the burden of responsibility:
• The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is depending on teachers and health visitors to protect Scotland’s most vulnerable children. She said that “if it saves the life of one child, I think it’s worth it”.
• Aileen Campbell, the minister who steered the Named Person law through Parliament, said she was relying on the scheme to “stop and avoid the sort of horrible things that we have seen recently happening to children”.
• The Information Commissioner’s Office says Named Persons will be required to pull all the pieces together from information provided by health, education, social work and police.
It’s vitally important to identify and protect vulnerable children and good professionals are doing that all the time. But the threshold for Named Person monitoring and intervention has nothing to do with vulnerability. It is a universal service, meaning busy professionals will be expected to process large amounts of confidential data sent to them by all the agencies involved in a child’s life. Some will have to do this for hundreds of children.
You might remember, just before Christmas, a child protection training officer said that taxi drivers will have a legal duty to spy on child passengers and report to Named Persons.
Jim Terras said “if you’re contracted out for services to the local authority, you will have a duty, a legal duty, to assist the Named Person”.
GPs, dentists and hospital porters
Supreme Court judges have been told that GPs will need to tell Named Persons if a teenager was prescribed contraception, though parents would not have to be informed.
A dental practice in Aberdeen received an “aggressive” reaction when they refused to pass on confidential information to Named Persons. (They were reportedly told: “You don’t need parents’ permission any more because we are acting as Named Persons.”)
One of the Government’s top advisers, Alan Small, also provided a list of people who should be legally obliged to share information with Named Persons, including those working at sexual health clinics and hospital porters.
In case that’s not unnerving enough, apparently friends, family and work colleagues should also be involved in spying on one another.
In an official Named Person training exercise (based on the board game Cluedo) participants are invited to play the role of characters in the life of single mother ‘Jayne’ and her child ‘Melody’. As they play they are asked to identify the ‘seemingly innocuous’ information that should be passed on to Named Persons. These ‘indicators’ include the mother’s stress at work and if she enjoys a glass of wine.
Yes, it is sensible to be vigilant. And we should all try to be good neighbours. But the Named Person scheme actively encourages ordinary citizens to assess other people’s parenting against Government checklists.
So we’re all state snoopers now.
Guest blog by Dr Stuart Waiton
Defenders of the Named Person law often claim (1) it doesn’t undermine parents and (2) it will help stop cases of serious child abuse or neglect.
But the Policy Memorandum on the new law explained that the role of the Named Person is, ‘based on the idea that information on less critical concerns about a child’s wellbeing must be shared if a full picture of their wellbeing is to be put together and if action is to be taken to prevent these concerns developing into more serious issues’.
The Named Person and all professionals dealing with children and families are to be educated about the importance of early intervention. Early intervention necessarily means professionals share data and intervene in family affairs earlier than they used to. This necessitates a Minority Report type approach where relatively minor incidents are treated as ‘risks indicators’.
In the National Risk Framework document, it is explained that the ‘Named Persons, Lead Professionals and others then need to project the future probability or likelihood of harm and to determine if this harm is significant in nature or not. Projection of probable risk of harm significantly also means that there is a potential for error in terms of what we think may occur. This is no small task indeed’.
The incredibly broad category (if it can be called a category) being used to encourage data sharing is ‘wellbeing concerns’, a therapeutic and woolly terms that is being taught to professionals helped by the 308 wellbeing indicator list and the 221 risk assessment indicators. Health visitors are also being taught that they must check family finances, check for domestic abuse and to take a proactive ‘health creating’ approach with the ‘emphasis on wider family health’.
Here health no longer relates to the health of the child or infant as we would previously have understood it, but to a much wider idea of the ‘healthy’ family and the ‘healthy’ parent.
Some people, particularly it seems, family professionals and modern politicians, appear to think that ‘bad parenting’ is the cause and solution to almost all of society’s problems. They also appear to believe that parents are incompetent. The social mobility tsar, Alan Milburn thinks that four out of ten children are missing out on good parenting, for example, and David Cameron now tells us that all parents should aspire to have parenting classes.
Meanwhile, what a ‘child at risk’ means continues to expand to include more and more aspects of life that would previously have been seen as relatively unproblematic and certainly not something that should be the concern of professionals.
Professionals should be encouraged to use their judgement and experience to assess if a child is at serious risk of harm. Where this is not the case we should not be encouraging them to become risk managers of all children or wellbeing monitors of all aspects of their lives.
Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology, Abertay University.
Until recently, Alex Cole-Hamilton, policy chief at Aberlour Child Care Trust was a staunch advocate of the Named Person scheme who was often wheeled out by the Government to defend it:
But reality, it seems, has caught up with him.
Facing countless parents on the doorsteps as he beats the streets of Edinburgh Western as a candidate for the Holyrood elections, he appears to have had something of a conversion.
The Daily Mail says he is calling for parents to be given power to reject their Named Person if the relationship breaks down. Apparently, if no concrete right is inserted in the Named Person scheme, he would advise his party, the Liberal Democrats, to reconsider its support.
Now, his proposal does not begin to address the heart of our concerns, but the very fact that he is talking about changing the Named Person scheme at all, and threatening to withdraw support, is a welcome turn around. After all, lots of people change their minds about the Named Person scheme once they understand what it really means in practice. That’s why more and more people are saying No to Named Persons.
Listen here to what Alex Cole-Hamilton said last year on BBC Radio Scotland in a debate with our own Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust.
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
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
In a comment piece, the editor for the Scottish Daily Telegraph, Alan Cochrane, added his voice to criticism of the Named Person scheme.
Referring to the plans, Cochrane said that the Scottish Government is “making a rod for its own back”.
“That it deserves a caning there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever”, he added.
He continued: “This is, arguably, one of the most unpopular measures I can ever remember any government seeking to impose on its citizens – so much so that it is not too much of an exaggeration to suggest that it risks generating a massive level of civil disobedience in that many parents will simply refuse to comply with what’s about to be implemented.”
Cochrane went on to criticise supporters of the Named Person scheme who write off parental concerns as “pure scare-mongering”.
He said “that is unlikely to reassure many parents who object to the idea that some outside party, no matter their qualifications or good intentions, can have a say on the upbringing of their children”.
He described the wide reaching plans as an example of “wrong-headed universality when what’s needed is specific and targeted action to protect those children who are most at risk”.
Cochrane said that he suspects First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will soon have to “take a direct interest” in the plans.
He concluded: “If she’s wise, she’ll cut her losses consign it straight to the waste bin.”
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
Teachers, who are due to become Named Persons for their pupils, have voiced concerns about the increased workload the scheme will bring.
Herald Scotland reported a letter it had seen from the Scottish Government asking schools if their “existing on-call arrangements outside term time for senior staff could ensure the ‘continuity’ of the named person service”.
The country’s largest teachers’ union, EIS, said that it would have “serious concerns” about any related workload demands during holidays.
The union, which says it backs the scheme in principle, criticised the lack of clarity over how the scheme would work and said its members were becoming increasingly worried about the extra burden the Named Person role will place on them.
An EIS spokeswoman said: “While we await the publication of final statutory guidance on the role of the named person which comes into effect in August 2016, there is the problem that in schools across the country, different things are being said about how the named person service will operate. Teachers are becoming increasingly concerned about the demands likely to be made of them which will have implications for workload and potentially for conditions of service.
“The level of support the named person will be expected to provide is not yet clear and may vary greatly from case to case. For this reason, the default position should not be assumed that a school should always be expected to provide the named person irrespective of its capacity and resources.”
NO2NP spokesman, Simon Calvert, said: “Teachers have a hard enough time and carry out what can sometimes be a thankless job without adding to their burdens during their well-deserved holidays.”
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
The Scottish Daily Mail has revealed that the Scottish Government spent more than £100,000 on PR for the Named Person plans in recent weeks.
Taxpayers have paid the price for a series of events designed to promote the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) scheme.
Around 600 people attended three regional events in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, and the GETLive event at Hampden, where parents received £25 gift vouchers, as well as travel costs and catering.
A NO2NP spokesman described the move as a “fortune at a time of grim austerity”.
He added: “It’s an absolute outrage a government which is pleading poverty… can find this eye-watering amount of public funds to spend on PR for their own unpopular policy of state guardians.”
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”.
Yesterday, Aidan O’Neill QC, representing campaigners challenging the Named Person scheme, told Scotland’s highest court that the plan to give every child in Scotland a state guardian was “incompatible with the fundamental rights of a democratic society”.
O’Neill, a leading human rights expert, said the scheme created a situation “worse than a nanny state because the nanny is at least responsible to the family”.
He was speaking at the start of the appeal hearing by opponents of the Named Person legislation, after Lord Pentland rejected their initial bid last year.
During the appeal, in Edinburgh’s Court of Session, Mr O’Neill said the state should support the family in the upbringing of children as the family is the fundamental group unit of the state and entitled to state protection.
He said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written to counter Nazi and Fascist totalitarian states which placed value on “uniformity and conformity” and to point out that “the child is not the mere creature of the state”.
He told the court the scheme didn’t require families to give consent and offered no chance to opt in or out and said: “The presumption is every child needs a named person. That is wrong. The vast majority of parents bring up their children perfectly well. For the state to assume a responsibility for every child regardless of need or threat of harm is to go beyond what we properly expect from a democratic society that respects families and respects diversity.”
Based on the guidance issued by the Scottish Government he also drew attention to the fact that: “Not only can you not opt out of the scheme you have to positively co-operate with the named person otherwise you could be characterised as ‘hostile’ or ‘non-engaging’ which leads to further state involvement. ”
He said the compulsory nature of the law and the need to collate data on every child would result in “white noise” meaning “those who do need help get lost”.
Mr O’Neill recognised that there are conflicting issues between respect for the family and responsibility for the protection of children from harm. But he said there was no pressing social need requiring interference in the lives of every family and continued: “The overwhelming majority of children are not neglected and the Named Person scheme subverts family life and supplants parents.”
He said the scheme was drawn up to promote ‘wellbeing’ (which can include everything from mental health to a “wider vision of happiness”) among children but said: “That’s what parents do and have done through the ages. It’s not the state’s job.
“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.”
He said the central assumption behind the scheme is that “the state knows best” whereas families “are the breeding ground of diversity and individuality”.
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.
The appeal before Lord Carloway, Lord Malcolm and Lord Bracadale continues today with the Scottish Government’s response.
The Named Person scheme is part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act and is expected to be implemented nationwide in 2016.
The Scottish Government is offering parents a £25 gift voucher, transport costs and free refreshments if they attend an event to find out how the Named Person scheme will work.
Parents will even be offered free childcare during the event.
The Scottish Government has been criticised for trying to buy public approval of the controversial scheme.
Organisers have hired Hampden for the planned event on 20th June.
A NO2NP spokesman commented: “Having lost the argument over their Big Brother plans in the court of public opinion we now find ourselves confronted with a Scottish Government attempting to buy approval for their discredited state guardian scheme.”
He added: “They can dress it up any way they like by calling it an information exercise or an advice session providing guidance for families.
“But the bottom line is that they are now using public funds in an effort to secure approval with this rather cynical attempt to bribe people into supporting the GIRFEC principles which underpin the Named Person proposals.
“Surely the money would be far better spent on funding social workers who are actually working with vulnerable children and needy families.
“No Government should be using taxpayers money in this way to try to buy support for their policies. Especially not one as unpopular and intrusive as the Named Person scheme.”
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.”
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!
A mother has been warned by medical staff that she could have been referred to a Named Person for giving her son what was deemed a safe dose of cough medicine.
In a letter to The Scotsman she said even though paediatric nurses told her that her son was fine, and the dose was well within limit, she was warned, “never, ever do this again. We would have had to refer you for investigation under the new Named Person laws”.
She wrote to the newspaper to express her concern about the scheme.
She explained: “When I was ill as child my mother halved aspirins and mashed them with honey, and doled out quarter-spoons of adult cough syrup. She took pains with medicine. We all survived.
“Some weeks back, I did the same. At 2am, I’d given my toddler a quarter-measure of adult cough syrup (I’d run out of baby syrup). Immediately, I regretted it, panicked and drove my son to A&E at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose, fearing a paracetamol overdose.
“’He’s fine’, the paediatric nurses told me. ‘The dose was well within limit.’ But, they said, never, ever do this again. ‘We would have had to refer you for investigation under the new Named Person laws,’ they warned me, carefully”.
She said: “The idea I might now ‘face investigation’ or scrutiny over a safe dose of cough syrup? It horrifies me. Parents must be made aware of what the Named Person policy means. It means state surveillance of us as parents.
“Parents, not the state, are best placed to bring up their children”, she concluded.
Letter to The Scotsman submitted by: C Sharwood-Smith, Kirk Yetholm
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 Scottish Association of Social Workers (SASW) has said it remains “unconvinced that the named person provision will make the difference intended”.
Trisha Hall, SASW manager, raised concerns about the cost of the Named Person scheme, particularly at a time when social work resources are already stretched.
She also said social workers were worried about lowering the threshold for intervening in a child’s life. Hall said: “We are concerned about what we perceive as an escalation; we are effectively raising the threshold from “significant harm” to “concerns about welfare”.
The SASW made the comments in response to a recent consultation on statutory guidance to accompany the Named Person scheme.
Source: Herald Scotland
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.
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.
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
The legal challenge to stop the Scottish Government appointing a ‘state guardian’ for every child in the country up to the age of 18 was launched today.
Legal papers formally challenging Holyrood’s controversial Named Person plans were lodged at Edinburgh’s Court of Session this morning.
There was widespread interest as national news networks such as the BBC, STV, The Scotsman and The Herald, plus a host of other local networks, gathered outside the court to watch the crowd of concerned parents and other groups hand in the documents.
NO2NP is backing the legal action which asserts that the Scottish Government is acting illegally and exceeding its powers by setting up the Named Person scheme.
The campaign has a wide range of supporters, including academics, medical experts, social services professionals and many concerned parents.
Critics of the scheme, which is contained within the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, say it contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, which is one of the petitioners in the case, said: “This marks the beginning of a landmark case which has implications for every family in Scotland. We are making a stand for all mums and dads who are doing their best for the children they love.
“We are not prepared to stand by and watch as the roles of parents and their rights to a family life are diminished and trampled over by an authoritarian big brother government intent on making its presence felt in every living room in the land.”
NO2NP will be staging a series of public meetings across Scotland as support for the campaign spreads. Events will take place in Glasgow, Dundee, Stirling and Inverness, with more expected.
The court case is being funded by more than 70 different sources. The court papers were lodged by The Christian Institute, the Christian charity CARE (Christian Action Research and Education), The Young ME Sufferers (Tymes) Trust, and the Family Education Trust.
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 parents of children who miss their appointments at hospital are already being reported to state guardians.
Doctors have told them they are “now required” to act as informants for a child’s government-sanctioned “named person”, two years before the controversial legislation comes into effect.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY ON THE DAILY EXPRESS WEBSITE
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”.