The Scottish Mail on Sunday

SIN­IS­TER RISE OF STATE SNOOPERS

3,000 Named Per­sons al­ready in Scot­land... de­spite le­gal ban

- By Dawn Thomp­son Society · Scotland · Scottish Government · United Kingdom · Edinburgh · West Lothian · Dumfries and Galloway · Liz Smith · Scottish National Party · Dumfries

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

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