ContactPoint – Protecting the Children

ContactPoint is a web accessible database containing identity information for all English children.

ContactPoint - Every Child MattersFrom the Department for Children, Schools and Families:

ContactPoint holds the following basic information for each child in England up until their 18th birthday:

  • name, address, gender, date of birth and a unique identifying number
  • name and contact details for each child’s parent or carer
  • contact details for services working with a child: as a minimum, educational settings such as schools and GP practices
  • contact details for other service providers where appropriate, for example health visitors or social workers; and whether practitioners are lead professionals and have undertaken assessments under the Common Assessment Framework (CAF). Please note these are not currently held on the system but will be added over time.

The new flow of information is intended to detect abuse and save children’s lives. According to the Financial Times:

It (ContactPoint) was first proposed after the 2003 Laming report into the death of Victoria Climbié, the eight-year-old girl who died after failures by social services.

Still the risks are alarming.

From the Times Online:

In March the Government admitted that it had uncovered problems in the system for shielding details of an estimated 55,000 vulnerable children. These include children who are victims of domestic violence, those in difficult adoptions or witness protection programmes and the children of the rich and famous, whose whereabouts may need to be kept secret.

However, there remain concerns about the security of the database, which was recently criticised by the Rowntree Trust as illegal under human rights and data protection laws.

Balancing the potential for benefit and harm can be incredibly difficult. Is the right answer obvious to you?