'Named persons': a human rights issue?

Thursday 22 September, 19.00 - 21.00 , Deeprose Lecture Theatre, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow, G4 0BA UK satellite events

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While the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 passed through the Scottish Parliament with relative ease, the ‘named person’ provision contained within it has proven highly contentious. Critics argue that the idea of a named, state-appointed guardian taking responsibility for the welfare of each and every child in Scotland undermines the family. The effect, it is argued, is to substitute bureaucratic accountability for the natural and spontaneous bond between parent and child. Shouldn’t the default assumption be that the named person responsible for a child is ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’ or ‘Nana’ etc, with professionals stepping in only when it is clear that loving family ties are absent or seriously dysfunctional? Indeed, in July, the UK Supreme Court passed a judgment requiring the Scottish government to redraft certain aspects of the legislation the court said breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (on the right to a private and family life) and raising concerns about the changing relationship between the state and families. Nevertheless, the judgement seemed to contradict itself, describing the Act in itself as ‘unquestionably legitimate and benign’.

Few would disagree that the state must act to prevent or stop child abuse and neglect. But is it just a case of finding the right balance, or has the contemporary state - exemplified by the Scottish government and the ‘named person’ law - fundamentally overstepped the boundary and lost sight of the importance of the private sphere? How far should the state be able to encroach on family life? Should child safety trump privacy? And ultimately, what factors should determine the line between a modern state and its citizenry?


This event is free, but please register in advance at Eventbrite.