Child database scrapped

By Matt Dickinson,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:25

A £224 million government database holding the records of all 11 million children in England was scrapped today.

ContactPoint was established by the Labour administration in the wake of the Victoria Climbie child abuse scandal to improve child protection.

Launched last year, it held the names, ages and addresses of all under-18s on a central computerised database, along with the contact details of their parents, schools and GPs.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers and social workers had access to the register to help co-ordinate who was working with children.

But as well as the cost, the controversial system was beset by delays, technical problems and fears over security.

The coalition Government pledged to shut the database down, saying it was "disproportionate and unjustifiable".

"Ministers do not believe that a database, which holds details of all children in England and which is accessible to hundreds of thousands of people, is the right way to help vulnerable children," the new government said.

The database is being destroyed "using government-approved security standards and processes".

Victoria Climbie, eight, died in 2000 after months of abuse.

The report into her death highlighted the need to improve the exchange of information between different agencies working with vulnerable children.

Announcing ContactPoint's closure last month, Children's Minister Tim Loughton said said he recognised the problem that the previous administration was trying to remedy.

"Frontline practitioners need to be able to provide support for our most vulnerable children when they move across local authority boundaries or access services in more than one area," he said.

"Experience shows the potential value of a quick and reliable means of discovering whether another professional has worked with such a child.

"However, we have never agreed that ContactPoint was the answer."

Mr Loughton said he was looking at establishing a new national service focussing on helping people find out who is working, or has worked, in another authority area with a child.

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