Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
The NO2NP campaign is calling on the Scottish Government to tell parents what additional steps it will take to vet Named Persons, in light of revelations that one of Scotland’s first official Named Persons has been found guilty of child sex offences.
Dayna Dickson-Boath held a senior position at a secondary school in Moray and served as a Named Person for 200 pupils but she has now been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register and ordered to undergo treatment.
Sheriff John Halley, sentencing Dickson-Boath, said: “You have been convicted of a very serious offence which has consequences on your professional and personal life. It is very serious and highly concerning.”
Simon Calvert, NO2NP spokesman, said: “It has to be hoped that the local authority has begun an internal inquiry into how such a person could ever have been given such a powerful role in the lives of children.
“The Scottish Government must tell parents what additional steps it is taking to vet Named Persons. Given their greatly increased involvement in the personal lives of children, there clearly ought to be greatly increased background checks to make sure they cannot abuse that position of trust.’
A Scottish Daily Mail editorial, in response to the Dickson-Boath revelations, asked the very poignant question – “Who guards against state guardians?” It said the Scottish Government should “use the case of Dickson-Boath to pause for thought on this new law”, and asked: “If a Named Person was later found to be an abuser, would the Scottish Government accept responsibility?”
The editorial concluded: “The best people to make decisions on behalf of children are parents. The state has no place in dictating how families should live their lives. Parents of children at Moray had no veto when Dickson-Boath was appointed their Named Person; they had no choice but to accept her into their lives.”
“Those parents will be horrified to learn of Dickson-Boath’s crimes. The rest of us might wonder how the Scottish Government will prevent further such cases when this wrong-headed policy becomes law across the country next year.”
Alison Preuss, of the Schoolhouse Home Education Association – a supporter of NO2NP, said: “We have long been warning about the risks to children from predatory Named Persons and this case should serve as a serious wake-up call to the Scottish Government.
“A compulsory scheme which has no opt-out and permits the gathering and sharing of children’s sensitive personal data across multiple agencies without consent is obviously going to attract the wrong sort of people for the wrong reasons. Parents and young people are already reporting inappropriately intrusive behaviour by Named Persons, but their concerns are not being taken seriously.”
Daily Mail reporter, Mark Howarth, cited the Scottish Parent Teacher Council which has insisted that the scheme offers ‘no benefit to the majority of children, whose Named Person is already in place – their parent or carer’.
He said: “Ironically, the legislation aimed towards safeguarding children could make it harder to spot genuine abuse. By widening resources to cover all children, including those who are happy and thriving, attention could be diverted away from children who are genuinely in need.
He also pointed to comments from Chief Superintendent Alan Waddell who said that the scheme could have an effect on Police Scotland’s “ability to accurately assess vulnerability”.
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.”
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
Callers have inundated the BBC with opposition to the Named Person scheme, as the Government is criticised for not knowing the reality of its own proposals.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert and Lesley Scott of ME children’s charity TYMES Trust – a supporter of NO2NP – also spoke out on BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday.
One caller told Kaye Adams that the scheme would undermine the family and “smacks of Big Brother”.
In the words of another concerned caller, if finding vulnerable children is like looking for a needle in a haystack, the Named Person plans are like making the haystack bigger.
The fact that parents will have no choice as to whether their children have a Named Person was highlighted by yet another caller.
The Daily Mail criticised Fiona McLeod’s appearance on the show, saying she “failed to answer simple questions” about the plans.
Speaking after the programme, a spokesman for NO2NP said: “It was striking that the scheme the Minister was defending is not the same as the scheme her Government has actually legislated for.
“She thinks the Named Person is just someone parents and kids can ask for help.
“But the Named Person is legally empowered to monitor parents and children, to share their confidential data, and to put services in place, all without parental consent and even in defiance of parental wishes.
“The Government actually put out a leaflet for parents saying the Named Person is there to monitor children’s happiness.
“It said this means the Named Person will check ‘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’. This is an outrageous invasion of private family life.
“If you give a government official the duties of a parent, they will act like a parent. They will escalate issues that should be left to parents.
“Social workers desks are going to be overflowing with reports from Named Persons of all kinds of tittle tattle that should be beneath their notice.
“That means children who are neglected or abused are going to be even more likely to be overlooked because social services are going to be overwhelmed with Named Person reports about kids who weren’t allowed to watch their favourite TV programme.”
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.”
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
Graham Grant, Home Affairs Editor for the Scottish Daily Mail has written a stark warning against the Named Person scheme, branding it a “Stalinist blueprint for a happy childhood”.
Commenting on recent remarks by Bob Fraser, the civil servant driving forward the Named Person scheme, he said: “It may have sounded at first like a calm explanation of a sensible policy. But, in reality, what was presented was a chilling manifesto for effectively outsourcing parenting to the state and to its legion of officials”.
He continued: “In essence, government officials have been quietly drawing up guidelines for a happy childhood – a kind of Stalinist, state-endorsed blueprint for a healthy and contented upbringing, which must be adhered to at all costs.
“This idea of compulsory compliance with a set of government-imposed ideals is, of course, a facet of totalitarian states, which rely on the micromanagement and strict regulation of private and family life.
“The ‘enforcers’ are the named persons themselves – mainly health visitors and head teachers – who will log perceived deficiencies in the child, perhaps demanding confidential medical records to back up their concerns”.
Fraser, the Getting it Right for Every Child health adviser in the Scottish Government’s Better Life Chances unit, suggested parents could be judged on how much they show their child ‘love, hope and spirituality’.
Grant commented on this point stating: “By setting arbitrary yardsticks based on ‘love, hope and spirituality’ – which, in any event, may seem more appropriate for a New Age commune – the named persons hope to uncover ‘problems’ that previously did not exist.
“Parents may soon be asked imponderable questions such as: ‘Have you thought about imbuing your child with more hope?’ Or: ‘Did you realise your child was falling short on the “spirituality” index?’
“Hope is a subjective concept and once the state is in charge of its definition, the scope for its abuse becomes clear. Ultimately, why should the state have a clearer idea of what hope and happiness mean than parents, or anyone else?”
Grant also commented on the “scale of intrusion” the Named Person scheme poses warning that it is “far greater than most people realise”.
He writes: “Pivotal to the smooth operation of the system is the free flow of personal information between public bodies. The named person can demand sensitive personal information, for example, from the NHS, if they believe the circumstances demand it.
“In fact, the named person will be assigned to children while they are still in the womb. Yet how many prospective parents are aware of this horrifying detail – an act of antenatal appropriation by state officials?”
Source: The Scottish Daily Mail, 02 June 2015
The top civil servant behind the Named Person scheme has suggested parents could be reported to state officials if judged to be showing their child inadequate levels of ‘love, hope and spirituality’.
Bob Fraser, the Getting it Right for Every Child health adviser in the Scottish Government’s Better Life Chances unit, explained his latest thinking at a conference of childcare workers.
He argued it was about all children and not just “the usual suspects” who are already known to social services.
He said: “Every child deserves to have positive well-being. We have had suggestions of different indicators, of love, hope and spirituality. I am not wedded. The Act is there at the moment. But in a few years, if people feel it is right, they should change that.”
A spokesman for NO2NP said: “This is a dark, deeply worrying and insidious development. Apparently the named person will police family life according to some ever-shifting ‘happiness index’. It’s an impossible standard for parents to measure up to.”
Liz Smith MSP, a vocal opponent of the plans, said: “This is exactly the sort of nonsense which critics of the named person scheme feared would happen.
“Parents will be horrified at the suggestion of being targeted because a state guardian doesn’t regard their home as sufficiently spiritual.”
Scottish Daily Express, 01 June 2015
Scottish Daily Mail, 31 May 2015
Graham Grant: “Children will be subject to Orwellian official audits of their happiness and well-being”Posted 5 years ago
The following is an extract from an article by Graham Grant published in the Scottish Daily Mail on 26 February 2015 under the heading:‘Is anything more chilling than the state laying claim to children before they are born?’
“As the upcoming inquiry into institutional child abuse in Scotland makes all too clear, the state is frequently the poorest of parents. Social workers perform a vital role – often struggling under enormous workloads – in rescuing children from neglectful carers. But too often they have failed – and when they do, the results are catastrophic: inquiries are held, vast reports drawn up and promises made of lessons learned.
“Against this background, it is scarcely believable that the state is about to embark on a scheme that will see its role as ‘corporate parent’ dramatically increased, through the so-called ‘named person’ scheme.
“The argument appears to be that, despite the state’s many failures as a ‘parent’ to children in care, yet more representatives of that failing state should be foisted on families, whether or not they are in need of assistance. The implication is that parents must simply trust these officials will act along-side them – and not attempt to take over from them.
“Children will be subject to Orwellian official audits of their happiness and well-being, and if deficiencies are found, ‘child plans’ will be drawn up – state-endorsed blueprints for their ongoing development, overseen by the named person.
“[T]he clear presumption is that there is a set of objective parenting truths which the state must enforce – and if these are not respected by the parents, official intervention is required. Of course, as much as any parent might want it to exist, there is no Holy Grail – parenting is an inexact business, based on instinct, trial and error, hoping for the best and working hard to attain it. It is driven by love and compassion – and often much anxiety. But parents are also being made to feel their judgment is eternally under question – and that it is always secondary to that of the state.
“According to the Scottish Government: ‘If concerns about a pupil are raised with their named person, they will respect the young person’s wishes for confidentiality if possible, while encouraging them to seek whatever support is appropriate, including from their families.’ This is the point at which the true nature of this scheme – as ambitious as it is chilling – is fully revealed. There is an appalling contempt for mothers and fathers at the heart of the SNP’s Kafka-esque strategy – but there is a greater injustice.
“The universality of the scheme – the fact it applies to all children from all backgrounds, regardless of whether any outside support is needed – means there is a far greater chance of those who genuinely need help losing out. And that would be simply unforgivable.”
The Scottish Daily Mail (26 February) has published a scathing editorial on the Named Person following revelations that the word ‘father’ is totally absent from the Scottish Government’s draft guidance accompanying the scheme.
The paper writes: “The trouble is that no matter the high-minded principles underpinning the idea, there comes a point where detailed plans must be drawn up – and it is there that the politically correct, with all their agendas, take over. So it is that the 110-page document setting out details of how the controversial proposal will work fails to mention the word ‘fathers’ once.
“So no matter what the SNP sets out to achieve, its plans have become anti-family and genuinely risk the nanny state being able to force its way into family homes where no intervention is necessary.
“That risks precious resources being targeted at totally the wrong people, leaving those most in need of protection the least likely to receive it. That would kick away the main plank of the SNP’s argument for the scheme and – tragically – defeat its main purpose: saving the vulnerable.”
Commenting on the story, NO2NP said: “The guidance mentions mothers only once. Fathers have been left out altogether. The state is airbrushing dads out of the picture. How can we encourage more young dads to take their responsibilities seriously when the Government doesn’t even acknowledge their existence?
“Most kids think mum and dad are the most important people in their lives. But our politicians seem to think they are irrelevant. We’d all be better off if politicians stuck to politics and left parenting to parents.
“In the not too distant future children might grow up asking these questions to their all-powerful named person: ‘What was a mum? What was a dad?’.”