The government is considering bringing back a version of the controversial ContactPoint children's database, just months after the original project was halted. The ContactPoint database project was launched by the previous Labour government, but the Tories vowed to scrap it if they won power, on the grounds that it was a potential security risk to children.
After the election the coalition government announced it was pulling the plugs on the project, but now a parliamentary written answer, indicates they are having second thoughts and are considering a streamlined version of the database.
Tim Loughton, junior minister for children and families, admitted, "We are exploring the practicality of an alternative national signposting service which would help practitioners find out whether a colleague elsewhere is working, or has previously worked, with the same vulnerable child." He added, "The approach would particularly take account of the needs of children who move between local authority areas or who access services in more than one local authority.
“Social workers in particular, and potentially other key services like the police or accident and emergency departments, may need this information very quickly. Any new approach would seek to strengthen communication between these areas."
Loughton said it was important that information held on the new database was kept to a minimum, to allow effective identification of the individuals involved. "We would also seek to keep development and implementation costs to a minimum, and deliver a service that can demonstrate greater value for money than ContactPoint", said Loughton.
ContactPoint was a £224m database of under-18s. The database was built by Capgemini, and was originally intended to help improve the management of social care for vulnerable children. There were concerns that too many public sector staff would have access to ContactPoint, and whether the database breached childrens' privacy rights.