Children may shrink back from getting the help they need because their confidential information could be shared with Scotland’s state guardians, a charity has warned.
Clan Childlaw will make the argument in front of judges next week at the UK Supreme Court, in a case against the Named Person scheme which is spearheaded by The Christian Institute and other groups.
Clan, which gives free legal advice and representation for children in Scotland, said the Scottish Government’s programme lowers the current threshold at which information can be shared.
Principal Solicitor at Clan, Alison Reid, said: “We all want to make sure that children and young people in Scotland are protected and recognise that when child protection issues arise, these need to be shared appropriately amongst professionals.
“However, where there are no child protection concerns, a child, like anyone else, should be entitled to a level of confidentiality when accessing advice.”
“There is a serious risk that the overriding of confidentiality when there is no child protection concern will lead to children being reluctant to engage with confidential services”, she explained.
Reid said the legislation introducing the Named Person scheme drops the “widely understood child protection test of ‘risk of significant harm’ to a much lower one around concern for a child’s ‘wellbeing'”.
The Christian Institute’s Director Colin Hart added that the lower threshold is merely about a child’s ‘happiness’.
“If a named person’s own view is that it might lead to being happier, then the child won’t be able to object”, he said.
The Scottish Government responded: “We have been clear that information should only be shared in a manner that is proportionate and respects the views of children and young people and existing legal frameworks.”
Next week’s hearing is being brought by The Christian Institute, CARE, TYMES Trust and the Family Education Trust.
Clan Childlaw is intervening in the case, raising concerns about the legislation behind the Named Person scheme.