Serious questions have arisen over the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme, after a strikingly similar scheme proved disastrous on the Isle of Man.
The Manx policy, which saw more than 2,000 professionals trained to monitor the happiness of children on an island with a population of just 88,000 people, is now the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.
Opposition to the Named Person scheme has spiked in recent weeks and more than 26,500 Scots have signed a petition against it.
The Scottish Daily Mail reported that the Isle of Man’s policy, known as ‘Every Child Matters’ (ECM), trained headteachers and the police to inform social services about children for a host of trivial reasons.
Previously, social workers could only intervene if there was a risk of “significant harm” to a child.
However, the threshold was lowered to a much wider definition based on whether or not a child was “healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving” and “making a positive contribution”.
The result of this was a 1,560 per cent rise in referrals to social services of cases “warranting a more detailed investigation” – up from an estimated 30 to 498 in the year following ECM’s implementation.
The overall number of children referred to social care rose by 500 per cent to approximately 900 in the first year, on an island where roughly 1,000 children are born annually.
In order to cope with the huge spike in referrals, the Manx Government had to seek out almost half a million pounds of additional funding.
Campaigners against the Named Person scheme have long protested against a similar drop in the threshold for intervention from ‘risk of significant harm’ to the vague and subjective standard of ‘wellbeing’.
The legislation underpinning the scheme instructs named persons to make sure children are “Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, and Included”.
A Government-funded booklet has been ridiculed for also suggesting that children should have a say in what they watch on TV and how their bedroom is decorated.
The Isle of Man’s Every Child Matters policy, which was implemented six years ago, is now being scrutinised by a committee of the island’s Parliament.
Alison Preuss, of Home Education Forum, and a supporter of the No to Named Persons campaign (NO2NP), said: “We don’t need a crystal ball to see that Scotland is heading towards its own inquiry in a few years’ time as complaints from victims start to mount up.”
NO2NP, a broad coalition of charities, civil liberties groups and concerned parents, is supported by more than 26,500 Scots including teachers and health visitors.
Last month, the legal case against the plans reached the UK Supreme Court where judges heard that they bypass parents, and that the legislation is so complicated it is like “wrestling with an octopus”.
The senior judges will deliver their verdict in the coming months and have the power to put a halt to the legislation.