WE have consistently supported the Scottish Government over its policy of having a named person such as a health visitor or school head as a focus for child protection, but as always with well-intended laws the devil lies in the detail or, more usually, the legislative guidelines.

Opposition to the plans was driven by an alliance of right-wing tabloid newspapers and self-proclaimed "pro-family" pressure groups. That would be the same tabloids quickest to condemns social workers for failing to intervene in cases such as that of Declan Heaney in Paisley. They condemn social workers whether for intervention or non-intervention, while faith-based pro-family groups fatally overstated their case during the passage of the legislation.

But we are not blind to the need to get this process right and to fund it adequately. So we report with concern today the findings which show that the consultation over the guidelines issued on the legislation shows that even among the organisations directly involved only 55% describe these as clear.

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Among health boards, royal colleges, local authorities and third sector bodies, almost half do not belief the guidelines are adequate. The issues are not minor - clarity over the named person (NP) role, around when parents can be excluded from decisions, what happens when the relationship between the NP and family breaks down, these are all big questions.

The NP may appoint a Lead Professional, usually a deputy, but the guidelines have little to say over what happens if this breaks down. Above all there has been a failure to clarify the terms of intervention. How do you define "relevant and proportionate" in terms of something as traumatic as asserting the rights of a state guardian over the rights of parents?

On top of all that there are the more pragmatic concerns about adding these new powers to already hard-pressed healthy visitors and head teachers, both in terms of sheer bureaucracy and workload, and in relation to cost implications. Child protections does not come free. If we cut corners we cannot complain the next time there is a major failure costing the life of a toddler.

Nor do concerns end there. As we have reported, the whole area is a morass of human rights concerns, from parents demanding the right to raise their children free from oppressive intervention by the state, to the rights of children to raise concerns with trusted adults without these being widely disseminated - a concern which spreads to data protection and wider human rights.

None of this should be taken as a counsel of despair. The principle that our young citizens deserve maximum support, whether to help them through disability or learning difficulty, or because they face the trauma of a dysfunctional home background, is a good one. But we must ensure that the guidelines are more clear, the demarcations sharper, and the trigger points more sophisticated.

With so many Named Persons prescribed, some will be better than others and the system must find a mechanism for reconciling the laid-back from the over-zealous. Above all the change in the threshold for intervention from the more appropriate "risk of serious harm" to the vague "concern over welfare" should be reconsidered.