Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A little bit of extra help, or mass surveillance ?

Alistair Gaw, president of Social Work Scotland, attempts to set us all straight about the named person policy in the Scotsman today.

"It’s not about creating a nanny state, it’s about helping and supporting children and families."

He was bemused by media misrepresentations that the legislation would mean there would be a social worker for every child. Actually, for school aged children the named person is most likely to be a teacher he informs us.

He has missed the point of the criticism against the named person policy completely. It is not about which hat the named person is wearing that is the issue, it is the fact that the named person has been legislated into existence and is to be imposed on every child.

He goes on:

"The main reason Social Work Scotland, the leadership body for social work, supports the policy is that it is designed to make sure social work is involved only when it is needed. "

Only when it is needed ? - he is trying to pull the wool over our eyes -  that has always been standard practice. If this is the main reason Social Work Scotland supports the policy it is a very poor one. He has thought about the consequences for Social Work but has given no thought at all to the effects of the policy on every child and his/her family.

"The name person role will reduce not increase the involvement of social work in the lives of families, protecting resources for our most vulnerable children," Gaw says.

Time will tell. But if the involvement in the lives of families reduces for social work, it increases exponentially by named persons and the pilot scheme provides the evidence:
Almost 8,000 youngsters in the Highlands have been given a 'Child's Plan' - meaning they have been singled out for "targeted intervention" by an army of public sector busybodies.
Incredibly, before the trial began four years ago there were only 64 children on the Child Protection At Risk register in the entire Highland Council Area.
Gaw then goes on to use the `falling through the net` myth to justify the named person scheme. Children must be spotted early, before a crisis, and personal data must be inspected and joined up to get the bigger picture. By necessity that means for all children.

Yet if we look at Audit and Analysis of Significant Case Reviews (October 2012), it states:

"A very high proportion of families (93%) whose circumstances formed the subject of SCRs were known to social work services, with just 7% of families known only to universal services. This suggests that concerns had been identified in these families and had been correctly passed on to statutory services as specified in national child protection guidance."

In other words it is not universal services who are failing children but statutory social services. Then there is the more recent case of Mikaeel Kular.
At the time of MK’s death the family were receiving support from Fife Social Work Services on a voluntary basis...
(T)aking specialist legal advice, all partners in this Review have concluded that it would not be appropriate to release the full report.

I think we can guess why.

Gaw then quotes Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice Clerk`s, ruling about the named person scheme: "It has no effect whatsoever on the legal, moral or social relationships within the family," which we are probably going to hear ad nauseum.

That is, despite information to practitioners indicating that legal, moral and social relationships are going to be drastically altered. For instance, Dumfries and Galloway Practitioner`s Guide to Information Sharing has this to say:

"It is important that you:

...  understand that you are empowered to share personal and/or sensitive personal information, if you are worried and/or concerned about a child or young person’s wellbeing. In these circumstances nothing whatsoever prevents you from sharing the information."

So, whereas it was the role of parents to worry and be concerned about their child`s wellbeing, it is now the business of the named person who can share personal and sensitive information about the child and family across government departments and decide whether or not to instigate early interventions. (whatever they are !)

That changes everything.

Is it not about time the Scottish government and their sock puppets stopped trying to hoodwink the Scottish public about the named person scheme?


  1. Always suspicious of these 'leaders' and wannabe 'influencers'.

    Unlike Social Work Scotland (the leaders), the Scottish Association of Social Workers (the workers) has said it remains “unconvinced that the named person provision will make the difference intended”. Trisha Hall, SASW manager, said social workers were worried about lowering the threshold for intervening in a child’s life.“

  2. It is very worrying when there is a `disconnect` between those at the top and the front line staff who actually have to carry out the role.

    Obviously it is a very stressful and difficult role at the best of times, but flooding the system with low level concerns is not the answer, as social workers recognise themselves.

  3. I have just looked at `Social Work Scotland - What we do. ` They have 8 priorities I have discovered thanks to the first comment, but the first three will do:

    (1 To place people and their concerns and wishes at the heart of everything we do...

    My first response on reading that was to think of how much is made in the hearing system, for example, about obtaining a child`s view. It is sometimes done through asking a child to write or draw or ask somebody else to give their ` wishes and feelings` about what should happen to them. It has a place in family courts..

    It seldom works out for the child when they are in that position because adults called social workers invariably speak on the child`s behalf and dash the child`s `wishes`.

    I thought of that because social workers are often involved in removing children from their families and so aspiring to address other people`s `wishes` seemed such a peculiar aspiration for this sector`s working life. It will surely disappoint all parties.

    They will place people`s wishes at the heart of everything they do.

    No they won`t. That`s nonsense. But one thing they will do, is break people`s hearts. It`s in the nature of the job.

    (2) To share the benefit of our values, principles and professional expertise, which are based on supporting all aspects of an individual’s life and take into account environment, circumstance, family and communities, with partners across other professions and organisations.

    There could not be anything more dangerous than somebody believing their views are so potent they can support all aspects of someone individual`s life. It has got to be the mark of insanity.

    Not only that, Social Work does not have an area of expertise; they always look out for other experts.

    It would take too much text to comment on the rest.

    (3) To embrace partnership working in order to provide a seamless service to people, which gives them the support, advice and services they need.

    Partnership working is about building the databases and profiling everybody to make sure the public services and public money goes into the private corporations.. Hence the build up of public/private partnerships.

    Data is money.

    Profiling is control.

    And the Corporations/Government partnerships do not give a hoot about what anybody needs.
    Neither does the head of Social Work Scotland, the "influencer" who forces the agenda that nobody actually wants. But that is why he is there spouting off in the mainstream media.