A charity leader has questioned the validity of the Scottish Government’s beleaguered Named Person scheme, following the tragic death of toddler Liam Fee.
Two-year-old Liam was murdered by his mother Rachel Trelfa and her civil partner Nyomi Fee in one of the most harrowing cases of maltreatment ever seen in Scotland.
Laurie Matthew, of anti-bullying and abuse charity 18 and Under, highlighted that Liam was known to the authorities and had “a named person of sorts”, but he still “slipped through the cracks”.
The Named Person scheme is due to come into force in August but has been operating in pilot areas across Scotland for some time.
The Government has previously praised the operation of a pilot scheme in Fife, where Liam was murdered, but it now claims the scheme was not fully operational.
Speaking to The Courier, Laurie Matthew shared her view that the named person plans will add more pressure to existing child protection infrastructure, and lead to more children being missed.
“If a child like Liam can slip through the net, then adding even more bureaucracy and paperwork could, I think, make it even more likely that it will happen again.
“By including the huge numbers of children in families who are doing really well, you will miss the ones who need the help”, she added.
Her anxiety was echoed by the No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign, which has been leading opposition to the Scottish Government’s plans for the past two years.
After Liam’s murder trial concluded, a NO2NP spokesman said: “In light of today’s ruling, concerning a tragedy in an area where the Scottish Government claim the named person pilot scheme is ‘working well’, the public is entitled to ask if Liam Fee was not only a victim of his mother and her partner but whether this universal scheme got in the way of the kind of targeted intervention we all wish had been used to save his life.”
The Named Person scheme, which assigns a state guardian to every child in Scotland, has faced criticism for diverting resources away from where they are most needed.
Under the plans, named persons are responsible for the ‘wellbeing’ of every child in Scotland, a term which equates to happiness.
The state officials – either head teachers, guidance teachers or health visitors – will each be responsible for the wellbeing of as many as several hundred children at one time.
Laurie Matthew said: “If there are not enough resources to properly see to children like Liam, why on earth are we adding every other child in Scotland into the pot? I honestly don’t get that.”
The Christian Institute is spearheading a legal case against the Named Person scheme which is currently being considered by judges at the UK Supreme Court.
They are expected to deliver their verdict in the coming weeks and have the power to put a halt to the legislation.