SCOTTISH Labour leadership candidate Ken Macintosh has called for plans to appoint a named person for every child in Scotland to be revisited after police raised concerns about their role in the scheme.
Mr Macintosh wants Holyrood to reconsider the measure contained in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which was passed by MSPs in February last year.
The national news is filled too often by stories of neglect and abuse.Ken Macintosh
The legislation will assign a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare of children under 18.
Police Scotland’s concerns were set out in a briefing paper prepared by Chief Superintendent Alan Waddell for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).
The paper said there was “a lack of clarity as to the expectations, roles and responsibilities” associated with the change.
This could potentially “impact on our ability to accurately assess vulnerability” as well as have financial implications for the force, it said.
The concerns emerged as a consultation revealed that many of the bodies that will be responsible for implementing the Scottish Government proposals are still unclear about the role of the named person.
Mr Macintosh, who faces competition from fellow MSP Kezia Dugdale for the leadership, said he had serious questions about the measure.
The Eastwood MSP, a father-of-six, said: “My biggest worry is that this measure will take the focus of social workers and other practitioners away from at-risk children, which will ultimately make it harder to monitor and support those who really do need this kind of involvement.
“I am certainly not going to lay claim to being a perfect parent, but is this really the best use of taxpayers’ money and teachers’ time?
“There are few people across Scotland who fail to recognise the need to protect and help our most vulnerable children.
“The national news is filled too often by stories of neglect and abuse, and the all too horrific consequences with children dying at the hands of their own parents.
“At the same time, it is difficult to see how appointing a named person to look after for example each of my six children will do anything to improve child protection or to prevent such deaths occurring again.
“At the very least we need to clarify what this additional duty as a named person will mean.”
The measure is currently the subject of a legal challenge at Edinburgh’s Court of Session, with a judgment expected later this year.
The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) coalition has appealed an earlier decision by Lord Pentland to refuse a petition for the judicial review of the legislation.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There are many reasons why a child, at some point in his or her life, might become vulnerable and a family need more support.
“That is why the Scottish Parliament passed legislation to help ensure concerns can be identified early and acted upon as appropriate.
“We are now considering the independent analysis of the consultation responses, what people told us about the draft guidance and what more we should do to ensure those working with children get the guidance they need to implement Girfec (Getting it right for every child) effectively.
“Police Scotland, working in partnership with the Scottish Government, is taking a timely and sensible approach in assessing how it will fulfil its responsibilities under the Act.”