Scotland politics

Named Person policy up for debate at Holyrood

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The Scottish Conservatives are calling for the rethink of the Named Person policy before it comes into force in August.

The party will use its debating time to challenge the plans this week.

The Named Person measure will assign a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare of children under 18.

The Tories say it is an intrusion into family life. The Scottish government believe it will protect children.

'Frontline concerns'

Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said the named-person measures were one of the biggest issues raised during the election campaign.

She added: "The Scottish government can't just dismiss worries about Named Persons as scaremongering - not when professionals on the front line are expressing concerns.

"The Scottish Conservative opposition is determined to ensure that these concerns are heard in parliament and given a proper hearing."

The debate over the policy was reignited last week following the convictions of Rachel Fee and her partner Nyomi Fee for the murder of Liam Fee.

Liam, two, was killed at the family's home in Fife, one of the areas in Scotland which is piloting the initiative.

'Supporting parents'

The No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group questioned if "this universal scheme got in the way of the kind of targeted intervention we all wish had been used to save his life".

Education Secretary John Swinney insisted on Friday that Liam's death had "absolutely nothing to do with Named Persons" and that Liam was very much "on the radar" of social work services.

The Children's Commissioner Tam Bailie, speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland show, said the Fee case had progressed way beyond what was intended with the Named Persons system.

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Media captionLiam Fee tragedy had moved 'beyond Named Person stage'

He said: "No child protection service in the world can offer assurances that it will be failsafe, so this is a real tragedy.

"The second thing though is the named person - the Named Person service - is really a low level, early warning system for where things are at an early stage of going wrong in a child's life."

The commissioner said he had not yet looked into how any point of contact with Fife Council had worked, but insisted it was wrong to link concerns with cases which had already progressed.

"Even if there is a Named Person for Liam Fee that really is not the point in terms of that child being known to social work, which means that there should have been systems in place to ensure the safety of that child."

A government spokeswoman said the policy was "widely supported" by children's charities and welfare organisations.

She added: "It is a policy which is aimed at protecting children's well-being, and is about supporting, not diminishing, the role of parents."

Watch the debate at Holyrood Live from 14:40 on Wednesday 8 June 2016.

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