UK's 'secure' child protection database will be open to one million
Government underestimates, under pressure
Exclusive More than three times as many officials will be able to access sensitive information on every child in England and Wales held in the forthcoming ContactPoint database than estimates circulated by the government suggest, research by The Register has found.
ContactPoint is now scheduled to launch in January. It will store and share data including every child's name, home address and school, and information about their legal guardians. The government has argued it could help prevent cases similar to the horrific death of Baby P, whose tormentors were convicted at the Old Bailey yesterday.
Publicly available staffing figures from education authorities, the NHS, social services and other organisations show that more than one million government employees will have access to ContactPoint.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has told parliament that only 330,000 will use the delayed centralised data sharing system.
Use versus access
The lesser figure has been repeatedly highlighted by ContactPoint's critics as reason to fear it will be open to abuse. News that the true number of users could top a million will provide them with more ammunition to attack the government's security claims. Although ministers have emphasised the numbers who will "use" ContactPoint rather than be able to access the database, it's the latter that is seen as most important by campaigners, who are concerned the database will be easily trawled by abusive former partners seeking a reunion, for example.
At time of publications DCSF had not respond to requests for comment on the much wider access to ContactPoint our research reveals.
Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to scrap ContactPoint.
Maria Miller, the Tories' shadow minister for children, schools and families told The Register: "An independent review by Deloitte in February said that urgent changes needed to be made to ContactPoint before the government could implement it. Now more problems are emerging with ContactPoint and still the government thinks it is acceptable to introduce it.
"They have grossly underestimated the number of people who will have access to children’s data and now more children will be put at risk. ContactPoint should be scrapped."
The Conservatives want to replace ContactPoint with a smaller system that will only hold data on children deemed at risk. Officials wrote to councils in October arguing against the alternative scheme. DCSF later apologised for the breach of civil service political impartiality rules.
The total number of government employees who will have access to ContactPoint among only GPs and the police is more than 323,000, official figures show.
Ever heard of a fileafax it's a pretty revolutionary device, especially when combined with a telephone and actually talking to people, or heaven forbid meet with them face to face. Nothing with all of the advancements has changed in 50 years of health or social care at the front line except more and more of the workers time is wasted on meaningless burocracy and ever less time is spent making a difference and caring for people.
That's why I'm in IT and not health care, my old dear and step dad were example enough of what happens if you spend to much time caring about those in need and not enough time licking ass and form filling.
A step towards a full database...
As quoted from Stephen Baskerville, American political science professor.
"Not since the overthrow of the Weimar Republic have the leaders of a major democracy used their offices and the mass media to disseminate invective against millions of their own citizens. In fact it was Adolf Hitler who urged that "the state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people" and who explained, in the words of Rabbi Daniel Lapin, that "as long as government is perceived as working for the benefit of children, the people happily will endure almost any curtailment of liberty." Using children to tug on our heartstrings may be not only a weakness of the sentimental. It also may be a ploy by those cynical and unscrupulous enough to exploit children for their own purposes. This is likely to be remembered as one of the most diabolical perversions of governmental power in our history, a time when we allowed children to be used and abused by fast-talking government officials and paid for it with our families, our social order and our constitutional rights."
Stephen Baskerville, writing on fathers' rights in Insight on the News, June 26, 2000
The state wants to start a database of everyone, but using the 'we're helping the children' reason will get everyone ok with it. But what will happen with that information after the child finishes school? Will it be deleted or just moved to 'another system for archiving' which within a few years will start to have lots of adults on it. Let a generation pass and well... you get the idea. They can avoid the cries of paranoid people by just doing it really really slow, and no one will realize whats happening until its too late.
@ posted to El Reg but relevant to this story...
The fact that police systems don't have allow direct access to ContactPoint is totally irrelevant to the possibility abusive or speculative access by police or governmental data miners, since the legislation makes ample room for any request they decide to make. The Department for Children, Schools and Families admitted in August 2008 that police could access ContactPoint by "special request":
"To access ContactPoint for the purposes of prevention or detection of crime or for the prosecution of offenders, police would have to make a special request directly to the Secretary of State or Local Authority and make a case for disclosure"
So precisely the kind of "special request" needed today for police or local councils to access private communications data - the kind that was granted on over 500,000 occasions last year on the slightest pretext (or "case for disclosure" in newspeak); the kind that is never turned down under any circumstances, no matter how spurious the reason for the request and the kind was specifically ruled out on several occasions when the underlying primary legislation was debated in Parliament.