The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has awarded a £40m contract to Capgemini to set up and run an online directory aimed at improving child protection.
The directory – previously known by its working title, “the information sharing index” – is being set up following a key recommendation of Lord Laming’s inquiry into the brutal treatment and murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié in 2000.
Laming found that information about Victoria had not been properly recorded and communication between professionals from different agencies had been poor.
The ContactPoint directory is aimed at helping those working in education, health, social care, the youth justice system and charities to find out which other agencies are working with a child or young person so they can, where appropriate, work together.
It will contain basic identifying information about all children in England from birth until age 18, along with contact details for their parents or carers and for professionals providing support services to them.
Under the contract, Capgemini will build the system and host it from early next year, when it is expected to go live, until early 2014.
It will hold data extracted from DCSF, the NHS IT programme Connecting for Health, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office for National Statistics. The directory is also expected to draw data from other sources over time.
Government proposals for greater data sharing powers for public sector bodies has provoked controversy which is likely to be increased by more data sharing measures proposed by prime minister Gordon Brown.
But ContactPoint is likely to be less controversial because of its child protection role.
The directory will not hold case information or notes about children or parents and access will be restricted to authorised users who have been security-checked, trained and have the necessary authentication.
The design and operation of ContactPoint are expected to follow new international standards for information security management systems and will continue to be reviewed by independent security experts during the system build.