Controversial child database set to go online

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Indy Politics

A database containing details of every child in England will be rolled out today to ensure "faster contact" between doctors, social workers and police if they suspect a child is at risk. ContactPoint, a £224m directory, will contain the name, address, date of birth, GP and school of all under-18s – as well as the name and contact details of any professional working with that child.

The database was set up in response to a key recommendation of the Laming Inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2000. But the project has been subject to several delays due to concerns over data security and technical issues.

It has also attracted criticism from the outset, with civil liberties groups, children's campaigners and the Office of the Information Commissioner expressing concerns about its scope and role.

The database has been devised to help professionals to share information so that children do not fall into gaps between different services. No case information will be held on ContactPoint and it will be impossible to download its contents.

The Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, said it would help to prevent a repeat of recent cases which had shown that a lack of "proper and timely information sharing" could have tragic consequences.