Sunday, 19 July 2015

More warnings from Police Scotland

"Police Scotland have warned ministers that youngsters are being exposed to "further criminal acts" due to the "significant time delay" created by the extra layers of unwieldy bureaucracy. The force has said that "specific examples can be provided", suggesting that an unknown number of children have been subjected to physical or sexual abuse or neglect as a direct result of the Named Person legislation."

"Last night, campaigners demanded the Scottish Government make a public statement "as soon as possible" to explain how many youngsters have been left in danger and for how long."

"Simon Calvert, spokesman for the No To Named Persons campaign, said: "[The police] have essentially discredited the entire Named Person scheme by telling the world that the policy risks allowing more abuse to take place while non-experts sit on evidence of serious criminality against children, and jeopardise the prospects of bringing abusers to justice. The Named Person policy is a catastrophic failure and it must be scrapped immediately."

"The Police Scotland submission states: "A potential risk has been identified that 'wellbeing concern' assessments are being carried out by a range of practitioners from organisations when there is actual information that a child has or is the victim of abuse and or neglect deemed as criminal acts."

"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."

It is not clear if Police Scotland are talking about being able to provide specific examples of potential risk or specific examples of actual incidents. They provide a rather mixed bag. They are concerned that discussions are supposed to take place with the child and his or her parents - who may be responsible for abuse, and they are concerned that teachers and health visitors are not trained to deal with online abuse or grooming gangs.

Nevertheless, it is a fair question to ask how many reports of child abuse or neglect, if any, have been delayed in the pilot schemes where the Named Person is operating?

As it happens, concern about the difficulty of making wellbeing assessments was expressed in the Consultation on Draft Statutory Guidance:

A major concern was a lack of clarity around the interface between child protection and wellbeing, and the idea of a ‘continuum of wellbeing’. Organisations wanted further clarification on how the concept of wellbeing fits with the concept of (significant) harm and thresholds for child protection in order to ensure that children are protected. Respondents stressed that the need for timely intervention in respect of child protection should not be overlooked in the broader process of assessing wellbeing. On the other hand, the lack of clarity on where child protection sits on the wellbeing continuum could result in child protection measures being put in place when a more measured, preventative approach would be more appropriate.  
Analysis of Responses to the Consultation on Draft Statutory Guidance for Parts 4, 5 & 18 (Section 96) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

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