The Scottish Conservatives have been accused of whipping up fear over the government’s policy of assigning a “state guardian” to every child.
Tory leader Ruth Davidson claimed earlier this week that the SNP named person policy could increase the risk of a Baby P or Victoria Climbie tragedy being repeated in Scotland.
Opposition MSPs jumped on her comments during a Holyrood debate yesterday saying they amount to scaremongering.
Labour MSP Iain Gray slammed what he called “disgraceful remarks” from Ms Davidson, adding the policy is supported by most child welfare organisations.
But Scottish Conservative’s Liz Smith, who put forward the motion, said the policy “fundamentally changes the relationships between children and their parents” and undermines the role of teachers and social workers.
The named person policy is designed to provide a single point of contact for advice and counsel for parents and their children – but critics argue it amounts to a Big Brother-style “state guardian”.
Ms Smith said: “The universal aspect of this policy is so wrong-headed.
“Some police colleagues fear that by making it compulsory for every child it will be much less possible to direct sufficient attention to those who need it most or, worse still, they fear that they will miss that very vulnerable child altogether because of extensive paper work and bureaucracy.
“They warn of the problems of delayed wellbeing assessments which could cause delays in removing children from abusers.
“How sad it would be that, in some cases, the policy could have the exact opposite effect of what was desired in the first place.”
The policy was pioneered in the Highlands and supporters like Bill Alexander, local authority director of care and learning, claim the service would act as a safety net to help families and children if they need it.
And SNP MSP Aileen Campbell, minister for children and young people, robustly defended the policy yesterday.
She said: “This puts the best interest of the child at the heart of decision making. It works with – not around or against – children and young people and families.
“It stipulates that professionals must work together in the best interests of the child. It has been developed in response to family’s needs.
“Parents don’t want to have to tell or even shout their stories over and over again to a crowd of services, they just want appropriate support if and when they need it.”