Do you support the named person (NP) policy?
We have called for a full, independent review of the named person policy following the Supreme Court judgement into the legality of aspects of the current scheme. There are also reliable reports that the named person provision is not being implemented as intended and could be set to overreach the spirit of the legislation.
Our support for the policy was always cautious. We do believe in the benefit of a single point of contact to make it easier for families to engage with public bodies to access services and support for children. But we are now in a situation where it is unclear whether the Scottish Government’s current policy can even begin to deliver the benefits that were promised.
Didn’t Lib Dems vote for NP at Holyrood?
Yes. We examined the proposals in detail on the Education Committee. We were persuaded that because it was primarily about making it easier for families to access services and support and it did not shift the balance between the responsibilities of the state and families, it should receive our cautious support.
Now it seems the Act will not be implemented as intended. We have received reports that the NP remit could be overreached, with roles being undertaken and information shared to a degree beyond what the Act intended and for which they have not received the appropriate training. In short, this is not what was promised.
We have also had a Supreme Court ruling that elements of the policy are unlawful. Under these circumstances we think it is right that there is a full review of the policy.
Why did you support it in the first place?
This proposal had been developed by professionals on the ground rather than as a knee jerk measure from a nationalist administration that has tended to seek control as an answer to most questions.
It had the support of a range of proudly independent childrens’ charities and leading, trusted professionals so we had confidence we had made the right call.
What we have seen since this point – with the Supreme Court judgement and reports that the policy is going further than was intended – is why we now back a full, independent review. How would a review help?
We all want to see proper mechanisms in place to help keep children safe.
Alongside the Supreme Court’s ruling and reports of overreaching, there has been a loss of public support and confidence. This is why we now need a review to fix the policy, before it is too late.
This review needs to be independent and consider the threshold for intervention, the power and duty of the Named Person, resources, training and the data sharing arrangements.