Chronicles of SHANARRI (2019 edition)

Continuing the timeline of significant events from our original magnum opus GIRFEC and the Cult of SHANARRI – a chronology of significant events on the road to hellbeing (1991-2017) and Chronicles of SHANARRI (2018 edition)– as the Great Unravel of state surveillance and social engineering projects gathers momentum thanks to a belated public awakening. Mainly UK, with special focus on Lab Rat Nation Scotland, but (dis)honourable mentions for other wannabe (and actual) totalitarian regimes.

UK Supreme Court

January

January

17 January 2019

Minutes from the GIRFEC Practice Development Panel meeting on 13 December 2018

GIRFEC Practice Development Panel letters: January 2019

Letter from Panel Chairman to Deputy First Minister

18 January 2019

SNP’s child Named Person plan in chaos again after code of conduct deemed too ‘complex and confusing’ (Telegraph)

The SNP’s controversial plan to assign every child a ‘state guardian’ has descended into chaos again after John Swinney was told a code of conduct for those filling the role would be too “complex and confusing.”

An expert panel charged by Education Minister with drawing up the Named Person code warned it would be so complicated and legalistic that it would “not be user friendly and could inhibit good professional practice.”

Named Person plan suffers new blow as panel reveals ‘challenges’ (Scotsman)

Fresh blow to Scottish Government´s named person scheme (Mail)

Also covered  by the Evening Express

23 January 2019

To get justice in Scotland you must be rich or popular (Scottish Review)

Maggie Mellon uses one case study (among many) to illustrate the lack of accountability of public services in Scotland.

My faith in any process that is supposed to ensure accountability has been destroyed. People and organisations who publicly declare their commitment to children, to rights and to justice, to corporate parenting, to listening to children and families, have refused to acknowledge their part in causing or allowing huge harm and distress to the children and to their parents and wider family. These are people and organisations whose very existence is to protect children. Protecting children is what they were set up to do, what they are paid and funded to do, and it is what the general public expect them to do.

This story is by no means unique. I have heard similar stories from many parents across Scotland – some even worse. So, to return to my original point. If you want to get a fair hearing about a wrong done to you by one or more public bodies in Scotland, you need to be very rich or very popular, or both. Without money, the only defence parents can have is publicity.

There is a petition calling for a review of the child protection system being considered by the Scottish Parliament. We need to make sure that it is not dismissed in the same way that complaints are dismissed – with glib assurances that all is well and that the powers-that-be can be trusted. All is not well.

24 January 2019

Protester wins fight to wipe political activities from police database

On Thursday, the European court of human rights ruled in favour of John Catt, noting he “had never been convicted of any offence and his risk of violent criminality was remote”.

The activist had argued police were not justified in retaining 66 records of his activities at peace and human rights protests. They contained descriptions of his appearance and clothes at the protests and how he liked to draw sketches of the demonstration

The eight European judges decided police had violated his human rights as they had no pressing need to retain the records on a database of “domestic extremists”. They added that the database did not have effective safeguards to protect the rights of protesters.

Catt’s lawyer, Shamik Dutta, said he had been vindicated. “This ruling sets an important precedent that it is unlawful for governments across Europe to label citizens engaged in peaceful protest domestic extremists and put them on a searchable database for a potentially indefinite period,” he added.

Judgment

“A system that must rely on whistleblowers, litigation and press disclosure to ensure proper conduct is not adequate in terms of protections against abuse or arbitrariness.”

25 January 2019

‘Named person’ hurdle is an opportunity is not a setback

Reading beyond the Scotspeak spin, this opinion piece is finally a grudging admission of defeat by Ian Welsh, chair of John Swinney’s ‘independent’ panel, who is unable to bring himself to mention consent or the (non)definition of wellbeing in an attempt to save face.  The information sharing bill has no hope of being passed since the ‘wee tweaks’ that were promised to rectify delinquent legislation have proved impossible to square with human rights and data protection laws.   A truly embarrassing, but entirely predictable outcome, and an announcement from the deputy first minister (in raging bull mode as his sandcastle has been kicked in)  is now anticipated. 

Across health, education, social care services and youth work, Scotland has a huge range of practitioners able to help parents who want to support their children and help them reach their potential.

It is vital that we – as practitioners – are responsive to what families need, and recognise that young people and families should be involved as partners in decision making. Undoubtedly, when we listen to what is happening in a child’s life, we are better placed to work with them, their family and, sometimes, help meet their needs by making contact between services.

All of the above are central to the leading-edge Girfec (Getting it Right for Every Child) Programme, sustained by wide cross-party support over the last decade.

But if information is shared between practitioners, what about that family’s right to privacy?

When a serious risk to a child’s health and safety is identified, there is a clearly a responsibility to share proportionate information about that risk with the relevant people in a legally compliant manner. However, what about when teachers, health workers or youth workers have a small worry about a child’s wellbeing which is not yet having a significant impact on their development? What can they do to provide good service to the child and their family which prevents a bigger problem? That’s the question I’ve been looking at over the last year as chair of a Panel of experts from across education, health, the third sector, legal professions and a body which represents parents.

The issue arose in relation to the ‘named person’ proposals, part of Girfec, when the Supreme Court ruled on the proposals about information-sharing in relation to ministerial plans.

Panel members are tasked with producing a statutory Code of Practice to bring some clarity to when and how information can be shared. We wanted to produce something clear and concise that was accessible to children, families and those who work with them and which was authoritative.

We started by looking at bringing the different pieces of legislation together. Our legal sub-group found was that although it could be done, any new code may be perceived as very technical and complicated. That was at odds with producing something that was clear – and has been described in some quarters as a ‘setback’ for the named person policy. But we came to believe there could be a better way to support good information-sharing practice, while protecting family privacy.

Recent changes to the legal landscape, such as the introduction of new and updated data protection law, combined with a refresh of Girfec policy guidance, could provide helpful safeguards eithout the need for a statutory code. We reached this view by exploring many good examples of how families and practitioners are already working in partnership in this way using existing laws.

We also asked the Scottish Government to start examining how it can update Girfec guidance, to reflect the vast range of more recent activity around Early Years improvement, ACES and trauma-informed staff and services, coproduction of services, empowering partnerships with parents, health and social care integration and human-rights-based approaches. Our legal sub-group explored Scots and UK law, regulation and guidance, as well as relevant European and international law.

I think it’s now clear information sharing will be a larger issue for governments to consider across the spectrum of policies and services but in this particular context, it is vital for practitioners to provide families with assistance early so wellbeing issues can be addressed quickly and don’t have a wider or deeper impact on a child.

We believe it is a progressive and humane policy; early intervention to maximise later life opportunities, underpinned by the development of resilience in young people and supported by a responsive and sympathetic named person approach which puts partnership power into the hands of parents and young people.

Services can, and should, share only proportionate and appropriate information when it will help address such wellbeing concerns and any such information sharing must respect the legal rights of children and families. Nonetheless parents and young people need to know that help is always at hand.

The Panel’s current thinking – if adopted and given renewed energy and investment in practitioner training and development – could help by enabling practitioners to know what power they have to assist on one hand, and their responsibility to protect privacy on the other.

No setback here, only a call to recalibrate Girfec in the interests of our young people and their huge collective potential. The Panel is in the final stages of its work and will conclude with a report to Scottish Ministers for their further consideration.

Professor Ian Welsh, OBE is Independent Chair of the Getting it right for Every Child Practice Development Panel

Responses by parents:

Comment 1:

As parents of a child subsequently diagnosed with ASD, who were told by a head teacher (prematurely identified as his Named Person on a GIRFEC form) that the problem was simply “lack of parental consequences” and by an Educational Psychologist that “that would be an interesting wee research project for me!” (regarding involvement with our child), put us down for a double count of “different view of the problem from the professionals” as listed in the National Risk Framework.

It’s frightening to think how such judgmentalism will play out when teaching staff are also tasked with identifying ACEs and trauma (which the professionals are now seeing everywhere, as though the conditions of a Ceaucescu-era orphanage were suddenly replicated in homes across Scotland).

I’m sure after training comprising little more than an afternoon of Powerpoint and biscuits, teaching professionals will be expected to identify ACEs in children who will present in ways indistinguishable from those with neurological developmental conditions.

Reading the experiences collated by No2NP on their website, of those opposed to
the scheme, there is a pattern which recurs many times. The pattern is where a child has a difficult-to-diagnose condition which is initially dismissed (often by education staff) until eventually identified by a medical or mental health professional.


At this point, it is worth emphasising that these parents are not opposed to the
Named Person scheme because of what they’ve read in the press, as has been
suggested, but because of their experiences with some of the professionals who will
be tasked with implementing it, which a “charm offensive” on the scheme will not
alter.

On the “Stories” and “Blog” pages of the No2NP website, the pattern can be seen a
number of times particularly with high-functioning autism, and also with ME (The
Tymes Trust being one of the groups forming No2NP), but even in the case of a child
with cerebral palsy, the parent is left furious that “privacy means nothing to these
people”.

I am not suggesting that teaching staff are being malicious in these cases simply
that they are just that: teaching professionals, who, in order to get these sorts of
judgements right, would need to have a paediatrician and psychiatrist (as well as a
lawyer) on speed dial.

To correctly attribute a wellbeing concern (e.g. regarding challenging behaviour) in
such cases, and determine what information sharing was appropriate, would require
the Named Person to be an omniscient master-of-all-trades. Of course, in reality,
even the professionals are human, with one teacher reported by No2NP noting that
her colleagues: “might know Biology, or German or PE, but they are not trained
counsellors”.

Another recurring theme is a difference of opinion between education and CAHMS
professionals even after diagnosis. With apologies to Monty Python: “He’s not got a
condition, he’s just a very naughty boy”. The point being: even the professionals can disagree on the causes and remedies of wellbeing issues. And because such cases are often complex and evolving, families are quite happy to tell their stories multiple times without a “single point of contact”, otherwise what is passed on is the out-of-date result of a game of “whispers”
 
Comment 2:
 Prof Welsh appears to have reached the conclusion that many parents, professionals and indeed the Supreme Court judges reached many moons ago, if only the Scottish Government had listened at that crucial ruling, we would no doubt have saved many families from the heartache of girfec abuse, precious funds and resources could have been directed where and when needed.

Vulnerable children are constantly been failed, lack of support teachers, lack of mental health provision, inclusion and restraint finally under the spot light for its failings and it is worth mentioning, (even with data sharing in full swing at the legal levels of ‘At-risk’), the children that have perished under the Named Person scheme.

The truth is, parents never asked for a Named Person scheme as the Scottish Government intended, that was a disenguous claim from the beginning. If anything the scheme is viewed as an insult and intrusion into family life and in many cases has acted as such, ‘Girfec’, despite its promising title, is now viewed, sadly by many, as toxic. Families have always known where to go for help, they are not incapable. This scheme has broken down trust between practitioners and families, I doubt many would choose to use a Named Person as things stand going forward. SHANNARI is subjective and should be put out of its misery and teachers should be allowed to get back to doing what they do best. They are not mini social workers after all and shouldn’t be treated as such.

It is worth mentioning, Health visitors are a service, not a compulsory one, families can reject the service altogether should they choose to do so. New mothers require advice, reassurance their baby is doing well, a friendly face, not a data collecting Government official which is how some new mothers have described the service to me.

It is not the fault of GDPR that the scheme has hit the buffers yet again, GDPR popped a few more nails in the coffin nothing more. It really comes down to two little words and the difference between them. One a legal threshold, recognised within the law, the other subjective: WELFARE v WELLBEING. 
Here’s another wee word and it is one the Scottish Government should take note of when considering their new push with Adverse Childhood Events (ACE)s: CONSENT.

Hopefully, finally, Mr. Swinney will recognise that Consent is at the heart and nothing less.
We should be proud we have Human Rights laws, the Scottish Government are desperate to prove to the world what good Human Rights ambassadors they are. Well it is time they provided more than lip service. The Named Person scheme is dead. PLEASE DO NOT RESUSCITATE.
 

30 January 2019

The Named Person scheme must be abandoned (Lesley Scott, Herald Letters)

The arguments put forward in Professor Ian Welsh’s article (“’Named Person’ hurdle is an opportunity is not a setback”, The Herald, January 26) pose a threat for families across Scotland. Despite the UK Supreme Court ruling it unlawful in 2016 and ongoing strong opposition from families, Government and its agencies remain determined to push through the dangerous Getting it right for every child (Girfec)/Named Person legislation. Lady Hale, one of the judges involved in the 2016 judgment, recently reminded us of its dangers: “The spectre of the totalitarian state which tried to separate children from the subversive influence of their families loomed large. The Supreme Court recognised this in the Christian Institute v Lord Advocate …. the case which challenged the Scottish ‘named person’ scheme.”

Instead of a totalitarian state, Prof Welsh tries hard to paint a picture of “partnership power” through Girfec/Named Person with parents and children in the driving seat; but, after a decade of Girfec/Named Persons, the reality is one of human rights abuses, unwanted and unwarranted interference by the state, families erroneously referred to the Children’s Reporter and on to Children’s Hearings. In short, the intervention is often causing serious harm.

What is glaring in its omission from Prof Welsh’s article is the fact that Girfec and Named Person and their reliance on “wellbeing” as a procedural basis require consent prior to any data sharing taking place. Practice on the ground, however, reveals that for many families personal and confidential information continues to be shared without their knowledge, never mind their consent.

Government and its agencies need to stop telling parents how to parent and let them raise their children under their own unique “subversive influence”.

Rather than “recalibrating Girfec” Professor Welsh should listen to the UK Supreme Court and abandon this totalitarian scheme before it can do any more harm.

20 May 2019

SNP ‘hiding’ key report about state snooper plan (Mail on Sunday)

A NO2NP spokesman said: “It’s unacceptable Mr Swinney has had this report from his independent advisers on data sharing for nearly two months but has not disclosed it, or responded. What is going on?”

190520 MoS article Welsh report

24 May 2019

Education and Skills Committee is to discuss the Scottish Home Ed Forum / Tymes Trust joint petition on 29 May.  Latest petitioners’ submissions, in support of a public inquiry into the human rights impact of GIRFEC policy, include an advocate’s summary and 10 anonymised case studies.

Committee papers can be read here. Split pdf with relevant pages (35-55) here.

1 SEpTEMBER 2019

Expert panel fails to come up with a code of practice that can satisfy the 2016 Supreme Court judgment.

https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/correspondence/2019/01/girfec-practice-development-panel-letters-january-2019/documents/letter-from-professor-ian-welsh-to-john-swinney—21-december-2018/letter-from-professor-ian-welsh-to-john-swinney—21-december-2018/govscot%3Adocument/Letter%2Bfrom%2BProfessor%2BIan%2BWelsh%2Bto%2BJohn%2BSwinney%2B%2B-%2B21%2BDecember%2B2018.pdf

 

19 SEpTEMBER 2019

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills makes statement to Parliament that the Scottish Government are withdrawing the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill.

Information sharing proposals dropped and named person provisions repealed

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Deputy First Minister John Swinney also announced that the mandatory named person scheme for every child – enshrined in the Children And Young People Act 2014 – will be repealed. Instead, existing voluntary schemes that provide a point of contact for support will continue under current legal powers, where councils and health boards wish to provide them and parents want to use them.

The Scottish Government will now develop practical guidance and support to give professionals confidence to share wellbeing concerns in a compliant way*, and to help families understand their rights under existing law.

The report of an expert panel established to explore the development of a legally-binding Code of Practice to support the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) Bill has also been published.

*  i.e.  with fully informed consent in order to comply with the Supreme Court named person judgment and 2015 Bara CJEU ruling.