Child database described as a 'disaster waiting to happen'

A database that will contain the contact details for all under 18-year-olds in England has been described as ‘another expensive data disaster waiting to happen'.

 

The Conservatives attacked the £224 million ContactPoint database, which is intended to improve information sharing between professionals working with children. It will be accessible to 390,000 staff.

 

However the Conservative children's spokesman, Tim Loughton, said: “Which do you think is more likely to protect vulnerable children - investing in more permanent and appropriately trained social workers and reducing their caseload or instead throwing money at another expensive data disaster waiting to happen?"

 

Children's minister Baroness Morgan said parents would not be allowed to remove their children from the list, and that there will be provision for ‘shielding' the details of young people facing risk if they were identified.

 

Morgan said: “For someone fleeing domestic violence for example it is important we make sure the ContactPoint directory can shield in some way.”

 

Beverley Hughes, children's minister in the House of Commons, claimed that the database would allow people working with children to ‘put their particular piece of the jigsaw into the whole picture'.

 

The database was created as a result of the inquiry that followed the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2000. It will hold the name, address, parents' contact details, date of birth, school and doctor of every child in England and each child will also have a unique identifying number.

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