Details of every child in England are now accessible on a £224 million database called ContactPoint. Details of 11 million children under the age of 18 will be held on the database. It launched in the north-west on Monday, with a national rollout planned.
Critics worry that the government can’t be trusted with collecting large amounts of such info without it falling into the wrong hands. ContactPoint has been delayed twice due to security concerns. There’s been a series of data losses from government departments in the past that make some nervous about ContactPoint. One such incident saw the data loss of two discs containing child benefit details of 25 million people in 2007.
ContactPoint will be able to be accessed by government and voluntary-sector workers in education, social work and youth offending. These workers are said to number in the hundreds of thousands. It is said that ContactPoint will make it easier for professionals to know who else is working with a child, so services can be co-ordinated, and will show ‘warning flags’, such as letting users know if social workers had become involved.
“We have serious concerns about this database, which will give too many people access to sensitive information about every child in the country,” Isabella Sankey, policy director at civil rights group Liberty, has said.
Isabella Sankey also said, “Kids in most need of urgent attention could be lost like needles in a haystack, while all this information will be vulnerable to accident and abuse.”
“The government has shown it can’t be trusted with sensitive data. Parents have every right to demand that their children’s personal details aren’t put a risk,” Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said.
Children’s charity Barnardo’s will share in Contact Point. Barnardo’s chief executive Martin Narey said, “ContactPoint has the potential to make the world a safer place for vulnerable children.”
What info will the database hold?
According to the Department of children, schools and families (DCSF), the following info will be held on ContactPoint:
- Name, address, gender, date of birth and a unique identifying number
- Name and contact details for children’s’ parents or carers
- Contact details for services working with children: 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
- Whether practitioners are lead professionals and have undertaken assessments under the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)
Do you mind if your child’s details are on ContactPoint? Let us know…