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The Scotsman TOM PETERKIN Sun 03 April 2016
The Named Person scheme has proved to be a divisive issue for the SNP administration.
The Named Person scheme is to be rolled out across Scotland in August but one father’s experience of the pilot rings alarm bells for its many opponents
The handwritten note on an official form read: “Mr Smith feels it is impossible to stop his youngest son from sucking his thumb as he needs it for comfort. Did not appear to take advice on board fully.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The words, written by the two-year-old thumbsucker’s Named Person, sent a shiver down the spine of Andrew Smith [not his real name], a father-of-two young boys and a respected academic at one of Scotland’s leading universities.
Contained within a 60-page document that had been compiled about his family, the note referred to a blister which had appeared on the toddler’s thumb as a result of the childhood habit. It also suggested Smith contact his GP if the blister became “hot to touch or very red”.
Smith, whose name has been withheld to protect the identities of his children, grew more alarmed as he leafed through the document, the vast majority of which had been redacted.
The surviving extracts appeared to indicate that the minutiae of his family life had been recorded in painstaking detail for almost two years, under a Named Person scheme which has been introduced in his part of the country ahead of its final roll-out across all of Scotland in August. A separate note made by the Named Person charged with keeping an eye on the academic’s two little boys was concerned with nappy rash.
Alison Todd (above) of Children 1st backs the Named Person plan but Tory leader Ruth Davidson has urged Scottish Government ministers to rethink the scheme
“Suggests infrequent changes of soiled nappy though difficult to assess this,” the Named Person – a health visitor – jotted down.
For Smith, the contentious scheme was redolent of a Big Brother-style snoopers’ charter. Also of concern was the tone of the notes.
“I felt shocked and vulnerable,” he told Scotland on Sunday. “Then I felt angry and powerless when I saw these notes made of very trivial things and constant surveillance of small things that are part of everyday parenting – a total lack of respect and confidence in the parents. You have no control over this. I maintain that the hearsay put in there is false. But they won’t let me correct it. I have provided them with independent accounts that show that some of those statements are false, but they refuse to enter them. So the impression is that they are trying to build a case against me.”
Another entry described the effects of a runny nose on his youngest as “crusts on his face from nasal discharge” and reported that someone, whose name had been redacted, was concerned that the child’s face “appeared to have been left for a long time without cleaning”.
Reference was made to the youngest child having a “depressed mood”, which was now “no longer a problem”.
Smith’s shock was compounded by the fact that work on this dossier, known as a Family Record, had started without his knowledge. He had only discovered its existence by accident long after the details of his home life had begun to be recorded. Furthermore, it was only after an eight-month battle with his local health board that he managed to obtain a redacted version of the document, which began to be compiled after an acrimonious break-up with his wife which led to a protracted legal row over access to their two children.
Eventually their dispute was settled out of court and his two sons stay with him most of the time while his estranged wife has access on certain days of the week. To his relief the Family Record has finally been closed.
Nevertheless, there was a bitter aftertaste as he talked about his Named Person experience at the end of a week that saw the hugely controversial scheme become one of the hot issues on the Scottish election campaign trail.
“I find it sinister. I find it very creepy. I find it chilling,” he said. “They just hoover up all of this hearsay and then collate it into huge documents and on to databases. Under the new legislation all sorts of people have access to these databases. All they need is four or five reasons for intervention and they can hoover up information from any database and there is no control over whether this is true or not.”
Is having a Named Person making notes about thumb-sucking, nappy rash and emotional well being a sensible precaution when families face difficult circumstances – or is it an insidious invasion of privacy?
Tragic cases like that of 11-week-old Caleb Ness, the Edinburgh baby killed by his father despite the involvement of social work and health staff, have convinced the Scottish Government that action has to be taken. Indeed, the Named Person approach has the support of many organisations within civic Scotland, including children’s charities and teaching unions, who believe it will help struggling families and prevent tragedies. Extracts from The Scotsman, READ IN FULL
You can write to the First Minister and ask her to clarify, using the legislation, how a parent can opt out of the Named Person scheme.
A few suggested below, but please use your own words when writing (personalised emails are much more effective)
Ask the First Minister:
To clarify which part of the legislation gives permission to a parent to opt out of the Named Person scheme.
To confirm that the legislation says a Named Person will exercise their functions at their discretion, not just in response to a request from a parent or young person.
If a parent can stop private information about their family from being recorded on a database and shared by professionals, without their consent.
If she agrees with the Scottish Government QC’s statement to the Court of Session that to allow an opt-out would “defeat the purpose of the scheme”.
If a parent refuses to take advice from the Named Person who takes this as a sign of ‘non-engagement’ and convenes a meeting with social workers and others to devise a Child’s Plan, can the parent do anything to stop this process?
It will take a mere 30secs to sign petition
ALL lived in areas where Named Person was in place & therefore should have been protecting them
Hayley Davidson FIFE 02/2016
Liam Fee FIFE 03/2014
Clyde Campbell HLND 02/2015
Scott Chirashi FIFE 12/2014
Lewis Macpherson HLND 04/2014
Mikaeel Kular FIFE 01/2014
Isabelle Cowley HLND 07/2011
Rhys & Shaun FIFE 03/2016
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- By Aug 31st 2016, EVERY CHILD IN SCOTLAND will have a Named Person LIKE IT OR NOT
- The named person will safeguard children from abuse. REALLY??
- COMMON PURPOSE BEHIND THE SNPs NATIONAL ID CARDS?
(Gettin it right for every child?! oh aye, so ye are, especially the dead kids eh? Or do they not count?)
- Getting it right for every child leaflet Leaflet explaining the GIRFEC approach.
- Getting it right for every child: Child’s Plan leaflet Leaflet explaining the Child’s Plan, part of the GIRFEC framework.
- Getting it right for every child: Named Person leaflet Leaflet explaining what a Named Person is and their responsibilities.
- Getting it right for every child: Understanding wellbeing leaflet Leaflet explaining wellbeing in context of the GIRFEC approach.