Eileen Prior, Executive Director of Connect, calls for an end to the Named Person debacle

6th February 2019

The Named Person saga continues….

For more years (yes, years!) than I would like to remember, we at Connect (SPTC) have been speaking out against the notion of the Named Person. I wrote a blog about the sorry tale back in 2016 when the Supreme Court found against the Scottish Government. The simple fact is that the bit in the Children (Scotland) Act that covers data sharing – passing around information about families without consent – is illegal. We have always argued against this, simply because it would lead to a breakdown of trust between families, schools and other public services.

It seemed at that time that we were moving towards the end of the story, but since then there have been many twists and turns. The most recent twist is that the group set up by the Scottish Government to develop new guidance (when the Education and Skills Committee at the Scottish Parliament kicked out the last Government attempt to find a way through this) has itself found they were facing an impossible task.

In our view, the Named Person debacle has been costly and time wasting and takes us back to where we started.

Families or young people who ask for services will likely have their data shared to allow that request to be met: that has always been part of the deal and in our view requires families to be clearly informed of this at the outset. We know this is the way it works with charities etc who give families direct support.

Where families do not want services, there simply should be no data sharing. Where there are children at risk of harm the existing child protection processes enable professionals to step in, share information and act to keep a child safe. We all know from the news reports that this is an issue, but it is one that can be fixed by proper investment in and training of the professionals who work in this area, not by putting in another layer of bureaucracy that will set families against the professionals, and vice versa.

Millions of taxpayer £s have been spent since this process started on lawyers and advisors to find a way for Government to get this part of their policy through: it simply should not, cannot, will not happen and our advice to Government is to stop the charade.

The lack of clarity for families and professionals created since 2012 will take a long time to disentangle and the time and money spent on this process cannot be reclaimed. It’s time Named Person was consigned to the bin and existing supports and services for children and families were strengthened!

 

2 February 2019