Scottish Daily Mail

SNP ‘state snoopers’ already in operation

Thousands hired across country despite court ruling

- By Rachel Watson Deputy Scottish Political Editor

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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