I anticipated that callers might have anxieties. I understand these concerns – no one wants a change that infringes on the right to family life, or erodes children and young people’s ability to have a say in the way they live their lives. But the extent to which some callers were misinterpreting ’Named Person’, and caricaturing it as the ultimate assault on civil liberties, was surprising. Anyone listening in with no prior information would have been forgiven for concluding that it is a ghastly ‘Big Brother’ style nightmare the government is about to inflict on families by instructing them how to decorate their child’s bedrooms.
The Named Person’s role is to respond to requests for help from a child, young person or parent, and those who work with them where they have concerns for a child’s wellbeing. They will not interfere in how a child’s room is decorated, the TV programmes they watch, or in their religious or political beliefs.
Anticipating Wednesday`s radio programme to debate the Named Person policy, Alison Todd also referred to the previous court hearing:
[NO2NP] claimed that it was in breach of both data-protection and human rights laws but this was dismissed by Scotland’s most senior judges as ‘hyperbole.’ The judges confirmed that Named Person "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.
During Wednesday`s debate about the Named Person on BBC Radio Scotland this same quotation was used by Bill Alexander with devastating effect.
The senior Scottish judges have done the Scottish Government a great favour and now anybody who finds fault with the Named Person scheme will be criticised for `hyperbole`.
I thought the radio programme on Wednesday was fair to begin with and Aileen Campbell was pressed a number of times to explain why the Named Person scheme is compulsory. She avoided answering the question. Yet those examples provided in the programme of the scheme working well could just as easily have been achieved voluntarily. Why no opt out ? was left hanging in the air. So that was the point made.
It was when the NO2NP spokespersons attempted to raise the issues around data sharing and decision making that I felt the programme deteriorated and the NO side was squeezed out of the discussion. I was especially frustrated when Leslie Scott of Thymes Trust was not allowed to elaborate on her experience that wellbeing concerns have been escalated into child protection issues with the threat of children being removed from their families. Could there be any other more important issue to pin down? But I believe there was a very good reason for moving things along. If the Named Person scheme has an Achilles heel it is around data sharing and decision making.
After all, building the databases - and millions have been thrown at this project - is what integrated services and the Named Person scheme has always been about.
We know that and only have to look back at Every Child Matters and ContactPoint to see GIRFEC`s origins and equivalent in England and Wales, the Blairite policy that was scrapped. HERE
Not that it will be scrapped for long if little Scotland capitulates to this abomination of their human rights and people only squabble in terms of party politics, believing that parties are the source of power.