The Scottish Mail on Sunday
SINISTER RISE OF STATE SNOOPERS
3,000 Named Persons already in Scotland... despite legal ban
AN army of ‘state snoopers’ has been recruited across Scotland – despite the Supreme Court ruling that the Named Person scheme breaches families’ human rights.
In a hugely divisive move, the Scottish Government decided to create a Named Person, or state guardian, to monitor the welfare of every child in Scotland.
But the UK’s highest court blocked the law, ruling that proposals to allow the Named Person to share children’s personal data among various bodies were illegal.
Now we can reveal that – despite the court ruling – 3,000 Named Persons have been recruited.
Campaigners have now renewed calls for the scheme to be scrapped. Simon Calvert, of the No To Named Person lobby 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.
‘Professionals are desperately confused about what’s going on, so what chance have parents got?
‘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?’
We asked all 32 Scottish local authorities and 14 NHS boards if they operate a Named Person scheme. Of those who responded, seven councils did not operate one, with some believing there are no such schemes as a consequence of the court ruling.
A West Lothian Council spokesman said: ‘The proposed Named Person scheme is yet to be implemented, so there are not any Named Persons in Scotland.’
But Dumfries and Galloway Council said the scheme was mandatory, adding: ‘Every child must have a Named Person.’
There are some 3,000 Named Persons operating across the country.
Highland Council, with 247, has the most of any local authority which responded. 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.
‘In Highland, the Named Person policy has been implemented and every child up to the age of 18 (and beyond if still in school) has access to a Named Person.’
Lesley Scott, of the Tymes Trust, a charity for children and young people with ME – which has had dealings with Named Persons – said: ‘Despite the highest court in the UK ruling Named Person legislation unlawful, the role continues.
‘We have had constant assurances this is a service and a voluntary one. But the truth is, if the Named Person decides to move against you, they’ll do so with all the force of the state machine. The reality for families is this is an imposition and a threat, not a service.’
Scottish Tory education spokesman Liz Smith said: ‘The datasharing 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 long before now.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The Supreme Court ruled definitively 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.’
This is an ‘imposition by the state and a threat ... it’s not a service