John Swinney is ignoring you – but you can still be heard!
As you know, back in September Deputy First Minister John Swinney started a period of ‘engagement’ on the future of the Named Person scheme.
If you’ve been engaged with, you’re one of the lucky few! As far as we can tell, the ‘engagement’ has mainly been between the Government and people who agree with them. So parents have been left out of the loop.
You’re not alone. Swinney wouldn’t let NO2NP ‘engage’ either.
But here is your chance to make your views known.
The Government sent us their ‘engagement’ document which we have made available here. It asks questions around information sharing, consent and safeguards. We suggest politely making one or two of the points below in your own words.
You can email your response to: DFMCSE@gov.scot
We’re told that the ‘engagement process’ ends on Wednesday 14 December, so please get your thoughts in before then.
Regards, The NO2NP Team Get in touch via the NO2NP Website
- Say you object in principle to giving state officials statutory duties to police the wellbeing of children and monitor parenting against Government targets.
- If the Government is going to amend the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act anyway, it should take the chance to revisit the idea of every child in Scotland having a Named Person regardless of whether they need or want one. Instead, it should be a voluntary single point of contact for those who want to use it to help them access services – something FOR families, not ABOUT them. This should be written on the face of the Act.
- If they are amending the Act, it should make clear the right to decline to have a Named Person at all and to ignore a Named Person’s advice even when it has been sought. It must be made clear in the law that parents will not get a black mark against them for exercising these rights.
- Families have a right to informed consent if agencies want to share their personal information. Parents should not be asked to sign vague blanket consent forms to authorise the sharing of private information on them and their children. Practitioners must make clear to parents what info they want to share, with whom, and why.
- The UK Data Protection Act 1998 has information sharing provisions that are familiar to practitioners. They strike a balance between the privacy of families and sharing information where genuinely necessary. The Scottish Government should simply point to the Data Protection Act to set the terms under which information can be shared. As the Supreme Court made clear, any new law has to satisfy the Data Protection Act anyway. The Government has failed once already. Trying to come up with a new balance will just confuse matters again.
- The Government should make it explicit that everyday parenting decisions – like what TV children watch – are matters solely for parents and not to be second-guessed by officials. The Supreme Court said some of the SHANARRI indicators the Government tried to use to define their ‘wellbeing’ test are “notably vague”. Many parents have found that this means judging ordinary parenting. Wellbeing has no universally accepted or legally robust definition, so assessments are based on the subjective views of individual officials.
- The Government keeps saying the Supreme Court judgment does not require current policy to change. But this assumes the current practices of local authorities are lawful. Considering local authorities were acting on ICO advice which has now been withdrawn, the Government should be far more concerned about whether local authorities have been breaking the law on information sharing.
NO2NP opposes the Scottish Government’s plan to assign a ‘Named Person’ to every child in Scotland because it undermines families and diverts resources away from children who need them.