Scotland politics

'Named person' consultation begins in Scotland

Mother and child in silhouette
Image caption All children under the age of 18 will have a "named person" by 2016 to ensure their welfare

A consultation has been launched on how controversial plans to appoint a "named person" for every child in Scotland will work in practice.

Under the plan, a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, would look out for the welfare of every child under the age of 18.

The Scottish government said the "named person' would act as a central point to help families if they needed it.

But objectors said it would undermine parents.

The measures, in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, are due to come into force from August 2016.

Ministers said the "named person" would act as a liaison between the child, their family and access to any services they may need.

Those in favour said it would make help easier to find and co-ordinate action if children needed it and could act as an early warning system.

Early warning

But objectors argued that the definition of "well-being" was so broad it had the potential to lead to disputes between the state and families.

The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group said the measures breached data protection laws and the human rights of parents.

A legal challenge against the legislation failed at the Court of Session last month but NO2NP is considering an appeal.

The policy is already being rolled out in parts of Scotland including the Highlands, Edinburgh, Fife, Angus and South Ayrshire.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, head of policy at children's charity Aberlour Child Care Trust, said: "I can understand that there is a lot of anxiety, particularly in those groups that are opposed to it.

"I think a lot of that anxiety stems from misinformation and some misunderstanding of the provisions of the Act.

"The named person has been in place in areas like Highland for a significant period of time. The vast majority of parents have had no cause to have any contact with them."

'Perverse intrusion'

A spokesman for the NO2NP campaign attacked the legislation as "a ruthless and perverse intrusion into the lives of families" and "a Big Brother-style snoopers' charter".

He said: "NO2NP remains firmly of the view that the 'state guardian' legislation is fundamentally flawed and cannot be corrected by guidance.

"It is wrong in principle to grant named persons the legal responsibility for the very broadly defined well-being of every child. This will inevitably undermine parents and stretch already limited resources.

"The data sharing provisions of the act are flawed and will inevitably come into conflict with existing data protection laws."

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