'˜Named person' law won't help vulnerable kids: Ruth Davidson

SCOTTISH Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called for the SNP to 'press the pause button' on plans to introduce a named person for every child in Scotland.

Thursday, 31st March 2016, 6:10 am
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2016, 6:22 am
Ruth Davidson is calling for the scheme to be scrapped. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Ms Davidson, who is standing in Edinburgh Central, met campaigners and parents concerned about the scheme, which will see every youngster under the age of 18 assigned a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for their welfare.

The Scottish Government says the service, which is currently the subject of a legal challenge, will act as a safety net to help families and children if they need it. But opponents argue the move breaches the human rights of parents.

Ms Davidson said many parents were “deeply uneasy” about the policy, while professionals including social workers, teachers and others were unsure about how it will work in practice.

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She said concerns had also been raised by police that the mandatory nature of the scheme would spread resources too thinly, taking them away from the most vulnerable children.

But during her visit to a cafe in the Perthshire village of Abernethy, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) backed the policy, saying it would help keep children safe.

Ms Davidson was also challenged by the SNP to explain why her party did not vote against the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill in 2014, which contained the named person scheme.

She said: “My issue has been, particularity – with Nicola [Sturgeon] muddying the waters, saying that it’s fine as a parent you don’t have to speak to your named person, but that doesn’t mean your child doesn’t have one and they aren’t collecting information on you and your family without either your input or consent, and I think that is worrying to people.

“We tabled amendments, we tried to get opt-outs for parents on this and we were voted down by the SNP. There is no opt-out for families, if you have a child from August the state is going to impose a named person on that child.

“I think that the illiberal nature and the interference in families is one thing, but the real issue is that by spreading our resources so thin we’re taking it away from the kids that need it most.

“My strong urge to the Scottish Government, to Nicola Sturgeon, to the SNP, is we have fought this in every way and they have voted us down and shouted us down at every turn.

“Only now are parents waking up to how big an intrusion this is. Let’s press the pause button on this, let’s not introduce it across the country in August, let’s get back round the table and find a way to best allocate resources to the young people who are vulnerable and in at-risk situations in our country that need the most.”

An SNP spokesman said: “If Ruth Davidson thinks the named person scheme is so bad then she should explain why she told her party not to vote against it – it was passed unopposed by the Scottish Parliament by 103 votes to zero.

“This is naked political opportunism from a party void of any constructive ideas for Scotland’s future.”

Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, said: “The Scottish Police Federation supports the named person proposals. We believe it will help keep children safe.”