Scottish Daily Mail

SNP ‘state snoop­ers’ al­ready in op­er­a­tion

Thou­sands hired across coun­try de­spite court rul­ing

- By Rachel Wat­son Deputy Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor Scotland · Scottish National Party · United Kingdom · Scottish Government · John Swinney · Dumfries and Galloway · Dumfries · Liz Smith

THOU­SANDS of ‘state snoop­ers’ have been re­cruited across Scot­land – de­spite a court rul­ing that aspects of the SNP’s highly con­tro­ver­sial scheme were ‘un­law­ful’.

Plans to ap­point each child in Scot­land with a state guardian had been shelved over fears a key part of the Govern­ment’s Named Per­son plans would breach fam­i­lies’ hu­man rights.

The Supreme Court ruled that pro­pos­als which al­lowed shar­ing of chil­dren’s per­sonal de­tails across agen­cies with­out their par­ent’s knowl­edge was il­le­gal.

But fig­ures show 3,000 Named Per­sons have been re­cruited and are work­ing across Scot­land.

Cam­paign­ers and politi­cians have urged Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary John Swin­ney to scrap the scheme – with ex­perts say­ing the pol­icy is ‘too com­plex’.

Si­mon Calvert, from the No to Named Per­son cam­paign group, said: ‘When the Supreme Court rules the key part of your flag­ship scheme is il­le­gal, you re­ally need to take that on board.

‘This pol­icy should be dead in the wa­ter. In­stead, it looks like state snoop­ers are on the rise. What breath-tak­ing ar­ro­gance.’

Un­der the scheme, ev­ery child in Scot­land would be ap­pointed a state guardian, with fam­ily doc­tors and teach­ers tak­ing on the role. It was due to come into force in 2016, but was shelved when the UK’s high­est court ruled that the data shar­ing part of the pol­icy was ‘un­law­ful’. Mr Swin­ney has said Named Per­son will not be scrapped and that a new code of con­duct will ease the con­cerns of the Supreme Court.

But health boards and coun­cils are al­ready im­ple­ment­ing the con­tro­ver­sial pol­icy.

The Scot­tish Mail on Sun­day re­ported that a se­ries of free­dom of in­for­ma­tion (FOI) re­sponses shows there are 3,000 Named Per­sons north of the Border.

This in­cludes 247 em­ployed by High­land Coun­cil. A spokesman said: ‘The Named Per­son ser­vice is avail­able as an en­ti­tle­ment, with no obli­ga­tion for chil­dren and young peo­ple or par­ents to ac­cept any of­fer of ad­vice or sup­port.’

Dum­fries and Gal­loway Coun­cil said ‘ev­ery child must have a Named Per­son’ with the scheme now manda­tory in the area.

Mr Calvert added: ‘Nearly three years af­ter judges unan­i­mously ruled against Named Per­sons, it’s ap­palling to hear re­ports that par­ents are still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated and threat­ened.

‘How many more fam­i­lies are go­ing to have their lives turned up­side down be­fore the Scot­tish Govern­ment sees rea­son and throws this un­wanted, un­work­able scheme on the scrapheap?’

Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Liz Smith said: ‘The data shar­ing as­pect of the Named Per­son pol­icy was ruled un­law­ful in 2016 and ever since it has been clear to ev­ery­one ex­cept the Scot­tish Govern­ment that the whole pol­icy is un­work­able.

‘The SNP should have ditched this deeply un­pop­u­lar pol­icy.’

A Scot­tish Govern­ment spokesman said: ‘The Supreme Court ruled that the in­ten­tion of pro­vid­ing a Named Per­son for ev­ery child to pro­mote and safe­guard their well-be­ing was un­ques­tion­ably le­git­i­mate and be­nign, but fam­i­lies must have con­fi­dence that in­for­ma­tion will be shared only where their rights can be re­spected.

‘Fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion, the Scot­tish Govern­ment sought to make changes to the leg­is­la­tion, which is cur­rently be­fore par­lia­ment.’

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