The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Child guardian scheme hit by new blow as carer is guilty of vile sex crime

- By Mark Howarth and Charlotte Wace

ONE of Scotland’s first official ‘state guardians’ has been found guilty of child sex offences – in a case that is highly damaging to one of the Scottish Government’s most controvers­ial proposals.

Dayna Dickson-Boath was appointed as the Named Person for up to 200 secondary school pupils, meaning she had access to their private data and responsibi­lity for judging how their families were bringing them up.

But despite being handed such a sensitive role, the 30-year-old harboured sick fantasies about abusing youngsters, which she aired in vile Internet messages.

When the police were alerted, Dickson-Boath’s secret double-life was exposed. Now the former Girl Guides leader has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register and ordered to undergo treatment.

Her conviction is a profound embarrassm­ent for Ministers and a blow to their Named Person scheme, which is appointing a state official for every child in Scotland.

This is not due to officially come into force until next August, but Moray Council is one of a string of local authoritie­s already operating an early version of the scheme.

Last night, critics claimed the case highlights fundamenta­l faults in the project, which they claim is underminin­g parents.

Alison Preuss, of the Schoolhous­e Home Education Associatio­n, said: ‘We have long been warning about the risks to children from predatory Named Persons and this case should serve as a serious wake-up call to the Scottish Government.

‘A compulsory scheme which has no opt-out and permits the gathering and sharing of children’s sensitive personal data across multiple agencies without consent is obviously going to attract the wrong sort of people for the wrong reasons.

‘Parents and young people are already reporting inappropri­ately intrusive behaviour by Named Persons, but their concerns are not being taken seriously.

‘If ministers really want to get it right, they should start by admitting they got it wrong and scrap this groomers’ charter.’

Dickson-Boath sent the online messages while she was employed as an additional support teacher at Forres Academy, Moray. But they were uncovered after she won promotion to become acting principal guidance teacher at Elgin High School in November 2014.

Moray Council suspended her when the allegation­s first came to light in March this year, and she subsequent­ly resigned.

Following a trial at the town’s sheriff court, Dickson-Boath was found guilty of sending grossly offensive or indecent messages in August and September 2014 while conversing about child sex abuse with others. She was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for three years and must undergo treatment to address her behaviour as part of a Community Payback Order.

Sheriff John Halley, sentencing her two weeks ago, said the teacher’s correspond­ence contained ‘graphic detail’ and that her crime had a ‘significan­t sexual aspect’.

He added: ‘You have been convicted of a very serious offence which has consequenc­es on your personal and profession­al life. It is very serious and highly concerning.’

Married Dickson-Boath – who was also child protection officer for the Aberdeen and District Motor Club – may now face being struck off by the General Teaching Council.

Elgin High’s handbook for this school year states: ‘The Getting it Right approach includes the require- ment that every child has a Named Person within school to act as a point of contact for families, other profession­als and the community.

‘In secondary schools, the overall Named Person responsibi­lity lies with the head teacher, but this role is usually delegated to the principal teachers of guidance who are the normal first point of contact between the school and home. Any pupil who has a problem of any kind should go to see their guidance teacher: Mrs Chalmers for Eagles, Mr MacLeod for Falcons and Mrs Dickson-Boath for Ospreys.’

Simon Calvert, spokesman for the No 2 Named Persons campaign, said: ‘It has to be hoped that the local authority has begun an internal inquiry into how such a person could ever have been given such a powerful role in the lives of children.

‘The Scottish Government must tell parents what additional steps it is taking to vet Named Persons.

‘Given their greatly increased involvemen­t in the personal lives of children, there clearly ought to be greatly increased background checks to make sure they cannot abuse that position of trust.’

Earlier this year, The Mail on Sunday told how Named Persons had been provided with a Scottish Government checklist to assess the parenting skills of every family.

Concerns may be raised over a youngster’s well-being if, for example, they require fillings at the den- tist, are disruptive at school or do not carry out voluntary work.

And an investigat­ion involving social workers could follow if a young person is not ‘generally optimistic’ or fails to display ‘positive attitudes to others’ sexuality’.

The Scottish Government last night refused to comment on the case. But a spokesman said: ‘The Named Person will typically be a head teacher, guidance teacher or health visitor who is already known to the family.

‘Anyone working in these roles is always subject to criminal checks through the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme.’

Dickson-Boath refused to comment on her position as a Named Person when the Mail on Sunday went to her home near Elgin.

A spokespers­on for the council confirmed last night: ‘Ms Dickson was a probationa­ry Named Person at Elgin High School for four months following her appointmen­t in November 2014. As a probationa­ry she was supervised by a deputy head at all times in this role until her suspension in early March 2015.’

‘They should scrap this groomers’ charter’ ‘Convicted of a very serious offence’

 ??  ?? SHAMED: Dickson-Boath worked at Elgin High School, inset
SHAMED: Dickson-Boath worked at Elgin High School, inset

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