Named Person: parent licensing by the back door


My article in this week's Scottish Review: Named Person: parent licensing by the back door

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the Scottish Government’s named person scheme, due to be steamrollered out in August, is set to add a whole new layer of tarmac to the national re-surfacing project known as GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child).

For families who prefer byways to highways, the designated path to Getting It Righteousness – under the supervision of a state-appointed minder – feels more like a forced march to the communal midden.
Although the Scottish Government and its paid cheerleaders like to claim the controversial policy is simply about providing a single point of contact for families, the legislation paints a very different picture. Confidential information can now be shared, and interventions triggered, whenever a teacher or health visitor considers a child to be at risk of not meeting the Government’s desired wellbeing outcomes. In other words, it represents a seismic shift from the established threshold – risk of significant harm – at which the state may interfere in private family life.
At a recent event, one home-educating father of five realised he was in trouble after perusing the extensive list of risk indicators. His children, including two under-fives, were all born at home, the family don’t vaccinate, they are vegetarian, and he was brought up in care. He wondered if getting a telly might improve their family's score as the health visitor was becoming more persistent than a double glazing salesman.

Forget the good intentions, the named person scheme is paving the way to parent licensing in Scotland. Too many penalty points and you’ll be sent on a well-behaving course to learn the error of your child-rearing ways, so try not to get caught too often speeding through Asda with a trolley full of ready meals. Under the totting up procedure you could lose your licence, and maybe even your kids.
As we were going to press, a reliable source informed the Scottish Review that Liam Fee had a Named Person (Fife Council being one of the authorities piloting the Scottish Government's scheme) – Ed.
Nicola Sturgeon has meanwhile refused to answer the question as to whether Liam Fee had a named person. He and his older siblings should have had NPs, if the GIRFEC Board Minutes of a meeting held on 10/09/13 are to be believed (page 4):

"Alan offered an example of good practice on information sharing from Fife. Fife already had the Named Person in place and the police had been sharing information since April 2013. 400 cases per month had been raised."
Prior to being appointed head of IS for GIRFEC, Alan was the chair of the Fife Child Protection Committee, the area where Liam died. Here he is on Radio Scotland.

UPDATE: See also Special Report by Kenneth Roy in the Scottish Review: Liam Fee, the Scottish Government and an incriminating document