Liam Fee case reignites Named Person controversy

Child protection

Questions raised over what part the scheme played in obstructing intervention in the tragic case of Liam Fee 

6th June 2016 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

Scotland’s children’s commissioner has denied the controversial Named Persons system hindered social services intervening in the Liam Fee case.

Tam Baillie was responding to claims from campaign group No to Named Persons (NO2NP) which questioned if “this universal scheme got in the way of the kind of targeted intervention we all wish had been used to save his life.”

He said: “No child protection service in the world can offer assurances that it will be failsafe, so this is a real tragedy.

“The second thing though is the named person - the Named Person service - is really a low level, early warning system for where things are at an early stage of going wrong in a child's life.”

The Named Person measure will assign a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare of children under 18.

The debate over the policy was reignited last week following the convictions of Rachel Fee and her partner Nyomi Fee for the murder of Liam Fee home in Fife, one of the areas in Scotland which is piloting the initiative.

Named Person service is really a low level, early warning system for where things are at an early stage of going wrong - Tam Baillie

The commissioner said he had not yet looked into how any point of contact with Fife Council had worked, but insisted it was wrong to link concerns with cases which had already progressed.

“Even if there is a Named Person for Liam Fee that really is not the point in terms of that child being known to social work, which means that there should have been systems in place to ensure the safety of that child.”

A government spokeswoman said: “It is a policy which is aimed at protecting children's well-being, and is about supporting, not diminishing, the role of parents.”

It comes as the Scottish Conservatives called for a rethink of the policy before it comes into force in August.

The party will use its debating time to challenge the plans this week.

The Tories say it is an intrusion into family life. The Scottish government believe it will protect children.

Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "The Scottish government can't just dismiss worries about Named Persons as scaremongering - not when professionals on the front line are expressing concerns.

“The Scottish Conservative opposition is determined to ensure that these concerns are heard in parliament and given a proper hearing.”

6th June 2016 by Lindap

The question is not only whether Liam Fee had a Named Person, although I think that is relevant, it is whether the Named Person trial, which has been running in Fife since 2009, had an impact on the workload of social services and made it more difficult to identify and support those children who were most in need. The minutes of a GIRFEC meeting from September 2013 reveal that there were an additional '400 cases a month' raised in Fife at the time: "Alan offered an example of good practice on information sharing from Fife. Fife already had the Named Person in place and the police had been sharing information since April 2013. 400 cases per month had been raised." In 2014 and 2015 Police Scotland also raised concerns about the NP scheme and the time delay it was causing: "A potential risk has been identified that ‘wellbeing concern’ assessments are being carried out by a range of practitioners from organisations when there is actual information that a child has or is the victim of abuse and or neglect deemed as criminal acts. This has resulted in a time delay, at times significant, during which time the children (or other children) are exposed to the potential of further criminal acts and the potential for evidential opportunities to be lost or compromised. Specific examples can be provided if required."

6th June 2016 by fair comment

Classic Tam Baillie: "The commissioner said he had not yet looked into how any point of contact with Fife Council had worked, but insisted it was wrong to link concerns with cases which had already progressed." I don't know what I'm talking about but I'll give you my opinion anyway. By the way, isn't this the guy who (totally committed to NP scheme) has been charged with rporting to the Scottish Government on it. Sometimes,Scotland, I despair.