All babies in Scotland are to be fitted with a microchip at birth under proposals to ensure that parents can keep tabs on their children at all times.
The chip, which would be inserted under the skin at the back of the infant’s neck within an hour of them being born, would allow parents and authorities to keep track of youngsters’ movements from when they are babies until they reach 12 years of age.
The proposal would be brought in alongside the named person legislation – which will in August see all children in Scotland given a “state guardian” to oversee their wellbeing – and will be regarded as part of a wider move by the Scottish Government to offer further protection to youngsters.
It also comes as all pet owners in the UK are preparing to have their animals microchipped under Westminster laws which come into force next week.
Colin Argentous, SNP MSP for Glenbogle, said he had put forward the legislation to bring the protection levels granted to children into line with those provided for animals.
“While the Westminster government is concerned merely with the safety of dumb animals, we are taking things one step further to ensure that not only our pets – but our children – are protected too,” he said. “At the moment, the idea is purely at consultation stage, I like to call it a ‘Modest Proposal’ – but a pilot scheme carried out in Cape Wrath last year was implemented with great success.”
It is believed that during the pilot project, which took place between February and September last year, not a single child was mislaid by its parents.
Mr Argentous added: “Having a child microchipped should give parents peace of mind, because all children have the capacity to escape, no matter how responsible the parent is. This will make it much easier to reunite worried parents with their offspring.”
A consultation paper seen by The Scotsman reveals that the chip would be removed when the child reaches 12 years of age. The procedure could be carried out by a family doctor, or under general anaesthetic at certain registered veterinary practices.
Olaf Ripol of Scotland Protects Youngsters (Spy) warned the proposals did not go far enough and called for the chips to remain in place until a child reaches 45 years of age.
Mr Ripol said: “The idea that this chip should be removed when a child is 12 is horrifying,” he said. “A youngster should have to prove that they are capable of operating successfully without state intervention for a good 40-odd years before they are allowed to have the chip removed.”
• This was, as a number of you will have spotted, an April Fool. Our journalist Joseph King, Glenbogle MSP Colin Argentous and the esteemed Olaf Ripol are all, sadly, fictional.