Named Person legislation is an assault on families that must be opposed

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Those who think named person legislation is dead should think again says Lesley Scott 

5th July 2017 by TFN 11 Comments

Following the Scottish Government’s introduction of the revised named person legislation in the guise of the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill on Monday 19th June there were claims that the named person policy was now “dead in the water”.

Such celebrations may be premature. The day after the new named person bill was presented to Parliament, the report on the Serious Case Review into the murder of Fife toddler Liam Fee in 2014 was published. John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Minister for Education stated that policy interventions “such as the named person provisions which are about assuring child wellbeing and child support…will lie at the heart of the response the government takes to this report.”

The Serious Case Review on the murder of Liam Fee said of the named person that it “may have contributed to confusion as to who was co-ordinating care for the family.”

Mark MacDonald, Minister for Early Years and Childcare, insists that the new legislation addresses the concerns of parents and the ruling from the UK Supreme Court by introducing a duty on “those professionals who are engaging with the named person … to actively consider whether there is a need to share information in relation to the wellbeing of the child and the information will then be shared.”

Lesley Scott

Lesley Scott

This is exactly the same duty that the previous unlawful legislation placed upon practitioners when it required information to be shared with named persons “which affects or may affect the wellbeing of the child or young person.”

The reality we now face is even more confused, chaotic and nonsensical than before the UK Supreme Court ruling. Under this new named person bill information on children and their families will still be gathered, stored and assessed. It fails again to offer any clear legal definition of ‘wellbeing’ but expects practitioners to share information on that lower, undefined, unlawful threshold, but within a legislative context of the higher threshold of ‘welfare’.

The reality we now face is even more confused, chaotic and nonsensical than before

It makes the provision of a named person for every child obligatory but tells parents they do not have to engage with the named person or accept help and advice. Yet, as families can attest to up and down the country, it is often the exercising of their right not to engage or accept help and advice that galvanises child protection services in the first place.

The Getting it Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) and the Named Person approach remain a clear and present danger for families across Scotland. The reality is that even with the ruling from the UK Supreme Court that deemed the legislation unlawful, practice on the ground, and therefore the experience of families, has not really changed.

GIRFEC and the Named Person have created a culture where any potential risk in a child’s life is viewed only within the context of parents and family, while intervention by the state can only ever be a good thing.

The tweaking did not work Mr Swinney – this remains an authoritarian assault on families that must be opposed.

Lesley Scott represents the Tymes Trust - a charity providing support services for families with children suffering from ME

5th July 2017 by Martin Crewe

Oh come on TFN. This is the 4th time in 4 months that you have given a blog platform to Lesley Scott to make the same anti-GIRFEC, anti-Named Person arguments. Where is the balance ?

7th July 2017 by William

@ Martin CreweIt's funny you ask about balance . Where is the balance in the legislation your charity is pushing for ?Every parent should know by now that Martin is a keen supporter of breaching children's human rights and privacy and he doesn't believe that either kids or parents should be entitled to any level of confidentiality . Dont forget he represents one of the leading charities backing this scheme, a charity which is currently embroiled in an abuse scandal of its own . Any comment on that Martin ?? ..... No i didnt think so !

7th July 2017 by Mark

Martin, you have the ear of a government which would not even engage with those on the other side of the debate in its supposed "thorough" consultation. Where's the balance there? You have all the power, and all the influence. It's quite right that TFN offers a space to the voices which the Scottish Government are trying to shut down, and which you don't want to hear. Without that, there really would be no balance.

7th July 2017 by Alex

Lesely Scott nails it. It is a message that bears repetition for the benefit of all the useful idiots who are just following orders of the SHANARRI Stasi. Collecting the personal data of all children, siblings, family members and other associated data subjects without their knowledge or consent is an attack on families' Article 8 rights, full stop. Public and third sector services have become infected by the GIRFEC disease and avoiding contact with carriers is the best protection.

8th July 2017 by Clare Chalmers

Martin Crewe on his salary of £115k should consider the flawed Named Person scheme, Supreme Court ruling, included the folling delivered words, "The first thing a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive varied influences of their families and indoctrinate them in their rules' view of the world." Never before has such strong Oberta Dictum been delivered to a so called democratic Government by the Supreme Court. Despite the ruling, exposing the disregard for human rights, which had been implemented for over a decade, leaving many families abused, Mr. Crewe saw fit to jump straight in front of the cameras outside the Supreme Court to say how delighted he was with the ruling. I strongly believe it is time the Scottish Government, the charities with their own agendas and generous Government grants, that have supported this, and others such as Bill Alexander of the Highland Council, face reality. We all must abide by the law, like it or not, and that includes abiding by article 8 of the ECHR. Thank goodness updated enhanced protection, regarding consent arrives in 2018. If the Scottish Government and others believe they can carry on regardless, then they should consider, expect and not be surprised when they are held accountable for their actions. The public will be watching, parents will be viligent, voters in time will be voting. Meantime, don't shake your charity tins in my face anytime soon. Looks like the sick kids would benefit more.

8th July 2017 by Janice

Martin, you do know that you're welcome to submit a response to this article? How about you challenge the facts contained within it, rather than challenge how many times Lesley's voice is heard?I'd love to read it. If you could contain details of how much Barnardos have invested in this abhorrent scheme, how much you've received to date from the Scottish Government and how much additional funding you'll receive should it pass through with this new bill, it would be greatly appreciated.Until then, you'll remain, in my mind, a business that is anti-Human Rights and out for profit over the best interests of the children of Scotland.

9th July 2017 by Méave

@MartinCrewe I find difficult to swallow your comment when your organisation continues to profit from this policy, you don't seem to care about serious failings of the care of Liam Fee at the same time Fife was sighted as good example for Data sharing, generating 400 case a month when that poor baby fell off the radar was back on the radar and still failed as the hay was add, but I suppose it's all about guaranteed funding. I doubt the people even cross your mind when you organisation has done nothing but suppor breaching our human rights. So wow as a charity boss is there any line you won't cross to insure funding ?

9th July 2017 by Catherine Mills

Martin, have you ever thought that the reason Lesley has contributed 4 times in 4 months is that there are still legitimate concerns about NP. The UKSC raised concerns about the lack of definition of wellbeing and this has not been rectified. This failure will continue to allow an NP to attempt to interfere in a child's and family's lives when they decide not when it is necessary. The changes made also do not solve the problem of NP not being experts in when it is appropriate and allowed to share information so breaches are inevitable. Nor have I seen clarification that parents and young people will be informed that they do not have to cooperate with NP as this is about wellbeing not welfare. Then there is the problem of the information being stored on all of our children and families. This is just a brief summary of some of my concerns and John Swinney has done nothing to reassure me. I attempted to be part of the consultation after the UKSC but it appeared to be invitation only. Our DFM does not appear to have listened to the UKSC or concerned families and we will continue to object until he does.

11th July 2017 by Helena

There is absolutely no reason that the NP should be viewed as an imposition. Anything to protect children should be welcomed, absolutely appalled that many are so adamant that a policy to actually ensure that children are safe and well cared for, at home, in school, and in other settings, is to be scorned upon and rejected. It is not as if children, and parents, are not already under a certain amount of scrutiny across the whole of the UK, but that fails children in many ways and far too often. Teachers, and medical staff, and others, can be very quick to judge parents' parenting skills if they do not somehow fit the norm that they expect. Parents are judged from the moment they have a child.But it is not in fact at home where children are most vulnerable, children for instance can be seriously bullied at school, if that school ignores it and does not act, the consequences can be dire for the child, and their family. The NP would be a mechanism by which the parents can insist that the school acts to ensure that their child is safe. It is not just aimed at parents, the NP applies to all settings in which a child might not be being treated as they should be.The NP should be viewed as a means to empower parents, and to enable them to be fully involved with good support, in the education, health and wellbeing of their children. The NP should be treated as a means to enable parents to not feel threatened or bullied by authority, quite the opposite they should be able to use the NP act to ensure that they can be supported to ensure a good level of care and respect, in all settings for themselves, and their children.We have to look at this objectively, and within the context in which it is meant, to look after childrens' welfare should it be compromised in any way, in any setting. That does not mean swooping in and removing children from their homes, as has happened in the past without NP. Where there are no concerns, the NP is a piece of paper, filed away, what is the problem with that?In reality, we should all be extremely concerned about the UKGovernment's 'Snoopers Charter', that will impact on everyone and no one is immune to it, not even children. All of our human rights are being compromised right now, and the extent to which the UKGov are taking this is by no means being put in place to protect or keep any of us safe.The Named Persons act is there to protect chidren where needed, and if this was a UKwide UKGov policy, in fact, the benefits 'cap' and all of the UKgovs terrible policies which are keeping families and therefore far too many children in dire poverty, could be challenged under the NP act!Think about that. The Scottish government can only do so much under the constraints of the the UK Parliament to protect our poor, sick, disabled and vulnerable, let's remember that the UK government impose their destructive, devastating 'welfare' policies onto Scotland. We are being cushioned from some of the blows, but that will not be able to be sustained in the long term. The UK Tory government's policies, their attacks on the most vulnerable in our society, are what people should be getting up and speaking against, not the attempts by the Scottish government to put mechanisms in place to actually protect children where needed!

11th July 2017 by Stuart

Reading some of these posts and previous ones about NP you'd almost think that no child has ever been abused by a parent or family member and if we just leave it to family's child abuse will simply disappear.Surely we should all be considering how best to protect children?

16th July 2017 by Méave

Just read the newer comments and would like to remind people this legislation firstly isn't about child protection and it dangerous to confuse welfare for well being, the Liam Fee case shows the dangers of not focusing on child welfare and adding more hay through well being. Secondly this legislation breached article 8 of ECHR, when did it become alright to breach human rights and not ask the questions why did we after WWII protect the family autonomy in Human rights? The state isn't the all knowing power when it comes to parenting, the majority of parents don't fail, but the state fails the majority of children, yes this would be WELFARE cases, in their care. To Switch the focus from the failings of the states systems to the family unit and well being, is to ignore the state is the 1 that fails child welfare and education and to believe they have all the answer in parenting while the wheels are falling off child welfare and eduction and ignoring parents on all policies to do with children, is to ignore majority of parents that don't fail. Well bing has no legal defination in law and John Swinney told fibs to parliament that is was and supreme court ruling clear stated well being was not defined The Scottish government are now writing legislation and put the onus on the Named person to fully understand DPA and ECHR before data sharing, having my DP breached by a local authority already due to GIRFEC roll out, I can tell you now they have no understanding of DPA or ECHR, and aren't even teaching our children ECHR and all the focus is on UNCRC, so how will they know ECHR when their is no focus on our huan rights in law? Westminster wrote the IPbill and the issue of data sharing came up as the house of commons preposted this new level of well being data sharing it was rejectect by the house of lords and data sharing stayed at the welfare level. The Scottish Government has no second chamber and there is no checks and balance on legislation in Holyrood and GIRFEC/namedperson is substandard legislation unfit for Scots Law and Holyrood itself was built on the foundations of ECHR, Scotland shouldn't be accepting any old substandard legislation. If GIRFEC/named person was about child welfare it would 100% have my backing but it's not and for this yet again to blurred as child protection is failing the already failed majorty of children in child protection.