GIRFEC, data mining, consent and the Named Person: who’s misleading whom?

no2np judicial review

Image credit: No2NP

A range of media coverage of yesterday’s launch of the judicial review of the Named Person and data mining provisions within the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act can now be found on the NO2NP Facebook page.

Just as the legal papers were being lodged by the Christian Institute at the Court of Session,  we were somewhat bemused to hear an oft repeated, but unsubstantiated, assertion by Bill Alexander of Highland Council that GIRFEC had been a resounding success there. Moreover, he sought to assure every reader and listener of every news media outlet he could muster that no complaints had ever been received in Highland from parents and young people whose experiences of the surveillance scheme had been less than satisfactory, never mind downright dreadful.

We quote from an article in Holyrood Magazine:

“Alexander has clearly become exasperated with a conversation that he considers riddled with misrepresentation. Not a single parent has complained about having a named person, he says. The Christian Institute has labelled that untrue and said a number of parents supporting their judicial review live in the Highlands. After the negative publicity that accompanied passage of the Bill, however, one parent entered a school to say that they didn’t wish the head teacher to act as a named person.” [our bold]

He’s exasperated? Spare a thought for the victims, please.

Along similar lines, we find in the Inverness Courier:

“Head of care and learning Bill Alexander said concerns by campaigners who claim it contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights were misguided.

“Mr Alexander said it had proven to work well for children.

“He added: ‘I don’t understand why people want to spread misinformation about a system that supports families and reduces the number of vulnerable children and is a Scottish success story.’”

We are left wondering if Mr Alexander’s comments alleging the spread of misinformation by “misguided” others (that  would include us, we presume) might fall into the same category as a previous grave robbing claim by Highland Council, duly disseminated by other vested interests; namely that the murder of Danielle Reid and the subsequent Herbison Inquiry led directly to the introduction of GIRFEC.

As we know, that could not possibly have been the case,  given that Danielle’s death post-dated the already well advanced plan to implement a scheme of universal citizen surveillance and early intervention dreamt up (with outside help) by Tony Blair, whose Big Idea was described by Tony Benn at the time as “the sort of thing Hitler talked about”.  The crocodile tears soon dried up when  we pointed out that the dates didn’t add up and we haven’t heard much about the poor child since.

Returning to Mr Alexander, we thought we should at least attempt to clarify some of his assertions about the ”Scottish success story” that is allegedly GIRFEC,  since we, like the Christian Institute, have been made aware of a number of complaints by parents in Highland about the Named Person and non consensual data sharing. We have therefore today submitted this FOI request to mine some data of our own.

Freedom of Information request – GIRFEC, data processing, consent and the Named Person

Please provide the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.

How many complaints have been received by Highland Council from parents and young people in relation to any aspects of the operation of GIRFEC from the date of its first implementation up to and including June 2014?

How many of these complaints have been received in relation to the actions of specific Named Persons?

How many of these complaints have been received in relation to the collection and sharing of children’s and parents’ personal data with or without informed consent?

Please provide copies of the forms used, and/or other arrangements made, by Highland Council to obtain informed consent from parents and/or young people for the gathering and sharing of personal data.

How many subject access requests (under the Data Protection Act) from parents and young people seeking copies of records accessible by, and shared with, Named Persons have been received by Highland Council since GIRFEC was first implemented up to and including June 2014?

How many parents and young people have withheld or withdrawn their consent for the gathering and sharing of personal data by/with a Named Person since GIRFEC was first implemented up to and including June 2014.

After the original emotive child protection cover story was outed as false, some new soundbites had to be found to defend the indefensible, so the “Highland success” storyline was crafted by GIRFEC’s architects and vested interests. It was duly trotted out by Aileen Campbell on Sunday Politics last weekend in an interview with Gordon Brewer, who, after asking about Named Persons’ access to children’s medical records and receiving only a scripted response, which bore no resemblance to a proper answer, posed the rhetorical question: “Isn’t there something a bit East German about all this?” Quite.

Another of the Minister’s claims about “extensive consultation” with parents and young people having been undertaken is equally suspect, unless the Scottish Government’s definition of  extensive means asking a  few hundred folk who had been misled into believing that GIRFEC, the cult of SHANARRI, the Named Person and blanket data theft were all about protecting vulnerable children (in the established child protection sense), as opposed to imposing a state snooper on every child to ensure state dictated ‘wellbeing’ outcomes are being met – or else!

Telling us that the majority of so-called children’s charities were in favour isn’t remotely convincing, either, when the very legality of GIRFEC has been called into question by senior counsel, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and myriad others.  These cheerleading charities all stand to gain big bucks from interfering with other people’s children on behalf of their state paymasters and have consequently lost the confidence and respect of families who object to having a Named Person forced on them, crucially without any ‘choose to refuse’ option.

A patently ridiculous contention by one such charity, that having a Named Person is akin to visiting the doctor when you need one, fails even to acknowledge, never mind address, the thorny issue of consent, which is a requirement for all medical treatment but can apparently now be overridden by any old state imposed snooper. According to reports we have been receiving from concerned families, Named Persons have not only been trawling and sharing children’s and parents’ health records, but have been using (previously considered) confidential,  historical  personal data  to undermine legitimate parenting choices and decisions.  Now that is what we would call scary and more than just a bit East German!

In fact we would say to Every Named Person: “Could do much better on understanding Article 8 safeguards and basic data protection principles. Highly likely to fail the test of judicial review which may lead to dismissal or prosecution.”


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