Saturday, 5 September 2015

Complaining about the Named Person

It was a very disappointing result for those opposed to the named person scheme:

"Lord Pentland refused an initial petition for the judicial review of the legislation at the Court of Session in January but campaigners, who say the plan gives monitoring power to the state, appealed against the decision."

"However, a panel of three judges who reconsidered the case in June have refused the appeal, stating the legislation does not breach human rights or European Union law."

"A judgment issued yesterday said: "The mere creation of a named person, available to assist a child or parent, no more confuses or diminishes the legal role, duties and responsibilities of parents in relation to their children than the provision of social services or education generally."

"However, NO2NP’s Simon Calvert, said it would now take the case to the Supreme Court – the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases – and would ultimately be prepared to pursue it at European level."

Looking at the judgment it can be seen that the judges confused the notions of welfare and wellbeing throughout the document.

For instance they say:

"The 2014 Act creates a regime involving child welfare which directs what should happen regarding the sharing of relevant information, but it assumes that the actions of those operating the system will comply with data protection principles."

No it doesn`t. The 2014 Act creates a regime involving child wellbeing and that lowers the threshold of concern and it is that which directs what should happen regarding the sharing of information.

Some commenters understand it.

"I wonder if the judges have bothered to read the legislation, which does not merely create a "named person" to assist parents if they actively seek help, but obliges the named person to take responsibility for a child's "wellbeing" (the so-called GIRFEC/SHANNARI criteria), the definition of which is so broad and nebulous it can be interpreted almost entirely subjectively, and gives a licence to the state to interfere in family life in a way unbefitting in a free and democratic society."

Then we have this from the Scottish Government:

"We intend to introduce a duty on public bodies to notify the child’s named person if there are concerns that a parent or carer’s situation might get in the way of the child’s wellbeing." [That is data sharing about wellbeing.]

"We also intend to extend Corporate Parenting duties to most public sector bodies so that our most vulnerable young people get the support they need when they need it." [This means Corporate Parenting duties will be extended across the public sector ready to share wellbeing concerns with the named person.]

But the three judges just did not want to get it.

Another matter they failed to understand was the definition of a child in need. A child in need is a child who requires additional services and who often has a parent running around the various agencies trying to get a care package in place for their needy child. Mentioning the Highland Council pilot and how successful that was, they failed to acknowledge that any success was due to this particular group who would no doubt be grateful for having a single point of contact - a named person - rather than all the running around they ordinarily do.

But most children are not children in need and do not require additional services, or a named person.

Not only that, while the pilot has been in place, no complaints system was established, and it would have been impossible to find out the number of complaints there may have been using Freedom Of Information, for instance.

So it is not before time that the Scottish Government has said that it is its intention to produce information and guidance in a variety of formats ahead of implementation of the 2014 Act.

"We want to ensure that parents and children know how to make a complaint, what their rights are and what will happen (the process) when they make a complaint. At the same time we want to ensure that every organisation and body involved in a complaint relating to Parts 4 and/or 5 are clear about their role and responsibilities regarding complaints. We want to develop a system where organisations and bodies can learn from complaints."

There is a consultation about the complaints process in regard to the functions of the named person (part 4) and child`s plan (part 5)

The consultation will run for 8 weeks and the Scottish Government is inviting written responses to the consultation by 30 October 2015. 

1 comment: