A legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s controversial Named Person scheme continues in Edinburgh today.
The Christian Institute, along with other concerned organisations and parents, is appealing a decision made in January by judge Lord Pentland to dismiss a judicial review of the plans.
Today and tomorrow, three judges at the Inner House of the Court of Session will consider arguments that the scheme breaches data protection and human rights laws and is an unjustified interference with family and private life.
Vulnerable children overlooked
Under the scheme, every child in Scotland will be assigned a state-employed named person to monitor their welfare.
Speaking ahead of today’s appeal hearing, spokesman for The Christian Institute Simon Calvert said: “The more people hear about the Named Person scheme, the less they like it.
“It is about making the state a co-parent, with power to second-guess and override parenting decisions about what makes a child happy.
“It claims to be targeted at vulnerable children but the problem is it’s not targeted at all – vulnerable children will be even more likely to get lost in the system.”
The named person will be able to share information with a wide range of public authorities and discuss personal matters with children without their parents’ consent.
Aidan O’Neill QC, will argue that: “In the absence of harm, the promotion of the State’s idea of ‘wellbeing’ cannot ever be said to constitute a pressing social need which might justify the State inserting itself into every child’s family life by the appointment of a named person.”
A charity that provides legal help for children has also raised concerns that young people will be deterred from seeking help when they most need it.
Clan Child Law said: “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, which will ultimately be to their detriment as they will be unable to access the help they need.”
Mr Calvert added: “The named person is, in effect, legally empowered to police the happiness of Scottish children. That is an outrage. Thousands of people across Scotland know it is an outrage, and that’s why they’ll all be hoping our judicial review succeeds.”
A petition against the Named Person scheme has been gathering support since its official launch at the weekend and now has over 5,000 signatories.
The petition reads: “I oppose the Scottish Government’s plan to assign a ‘Named Person’ to every child in Scotland because it undermines families and diverts resources from children who need them.”
The Named Person scheme is part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
The judicial review has been brought by The Christian Institute, Christian charity CARE, Tymes (The Young ME Sufferers) Trust, and the Family Education Trust.
The Scottish Government intends for the scheme to be rolled out across the country by August 2016. Some areas are already implementing a version of the Named Person scheme.