You report a concern that the Scottish Government’s proposal for every child to have a “Named Person” is a “gross intrusion into family life”(“Free Church leaders attack child protection bill”, 10 February). It is also the case that the proposal contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.
The key issue is the right of parents to consent to an investigation into their private and family life. In the rest of Britain, the state has to prove that a child is at risk of suffering significant harm before ordering an investigation. But the “Named Person” proposal would remove that threshold so the state could investigate a family for any reason.
A similar scheme, called Every Child Matters, was tried in the Isle of Man several years ago. Public authorities were encouraged to report even the slightest concern to children’s social care. In the first year, referrals to children’s social care increased by 500 per cent, but there was no increase in the average number of children on the child protection register. Over-referral then led to a huge problem with the employment and retention of social workers due to the increased workload.
The island’s social care minister told a select committee of the Tynwald in July that the government would never use a similar scheme in the future. The committee has publicly stated that over-referral of children to social services threatens the protection of children at risk of significant harm because of the difficulty of finding the needle when you make the haystack enormous. If the Isle of Man can learn from its mistakes, then so can Scotland.
Tristram C Llewellyn Jones
Ramsey, Isle of Man