Almost 8,000 children have been singled out for “targeted intervention” as part of a pilot for the Scottish National Party's (SNP) controversial state guardian proposals, a Scottish newspaper has revealed.
The plans to assign every youngster a state-employed named person—whom a top lawyer says could “cut across” the rights of parents—are being voted on for the final time later today in Holyrood.
The scheme has been trialed in the Highlands since 2010, and a council spokeswoman says 7,927 children have been given a “child’s plan” by a head teacher or health visitor.
Before the trial began, there were just 64 children on the child protection at-risk register in the whole Highland council area.
Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, says the figures from the Highlands suggest that “thousands of families are having their privacy interfered with on a daily basis.”
He says this “staggering” number should force the SNP to “abandon this increasingly authoritarian policy.”
The Christian Institute is campaigning against the SNP’s plans, which come under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill.
The charity has written to senior law officers in Edinburgh and London, urging them to refer the matter to the U.K. Supreme Court to decide whether it is legal for the Scottish Parliament to enact this bill.
Colin Hart, director of The Christian Institute, says, “Senior politicians and the law officers have the powers to act as and when required. It is clear that this bill breaches European rules through its attack on the family.
“It is nothing less than a state-sponsored, fundamental attack on ordinary parents and their rights to raise their children.”
The Christian Institute received a legal opinion from leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill, which said the scheme would have powers that “cut across” the rights of their parents.
O'Neill warned that the plans may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, which says the state should respect “private and family life.”
Tory member of the Scottish Parliament Liz Smith opposes the state guardian proposals and will attempt to introduce an opt-out clause for parents who do not want their child to have a named person when the bill is debated and voted on in Holyrood later today.
Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail, she said the plan “threatens to take much-needed resources away from our most vulnerable children.”
The Church of Scotland has also warned that the named-person scheme “diminishes the role of parents,” while the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland says the plans raise “serious concerns about the role of the state in modern Scotland.”
But the heads of 13 children’s charities have told ministers they “strongly support” the principle, saying it puts into legislation the practice of a “more joined-up approach” that is already being rolled out across Scotland.