The British government plans to collect lifelong records on all residents starting at the age of five, in order to screen for those who might be more likely to commit crimes in the future.
In a plan being piloted by Lincolnshire Community Health Services, all parents of children starting school are being sent an 83-question survey that asks detailed questions about their lives and their children’s behavior.
“This is incredibly intrusive and asks questions which, quite frankly, Lincolnshire Community Health Services do not need to know and have no right knowing,” said Dylan Sharpe of the group Big Brother Watch. “Even worse, the NHS Trust has failed to make it clear that this is a voluntary questionnaire. I would advise any parent receiving this to stick it straight in the bin.”
The questionnaire asks everything from how often the child lies, bullies, or steals inside or outside the home to how often she or he eats red meat, takeout food or carbonated beverages. Parents are also asked how well they themselves did in school, whether they have friends, and if they feel like they can speak freely in front of others.
The plan is for the forms to be filled out every year and supplemented by reports from teachers and social workers. When children become old enough, they will also be asked to fill out questionnaires. The information will be kept on file indefinitely, and will be accessible to health workers to decide if parents should be offered “support” to “enhance children’s life chances.”
The government plans to expand the plan to all of England and Wales some time this year.
“This is badly wrong for a number of reasons,” said Jill Kirby of the Center for Policy Studies. “Parents are not told how the information will be used, nor that they can refuse to give it and it will create worry and suspicion among many families. … It will make families wary and those most in need of help are likely to retreat from it.”