Feeds

DCSF reins in ContactPoint scope for police and A&E staff

Frontline access frozen by political fears

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is resisting broadening access to the ContactPoint database for police officers and A&E staff, two groups most people would consider to be the frontline of spotting child abuse.

Staff from the department admitted that this was for politcal expediency rather that to prevent overly wide access to the controversial database.

ACPO raised concerns at a meeting of the Information Sharing Advisory Group in August that "children will slip through the net" unless police had broad access to the system. The meeting also heard how the ContactPoint Database will not be made available to NHS staff working in A&E departments.

A representative for the Department for Children, Schools and Families suggested at the meeting that using the ContactPoint system to check on every child was likely to be unnecessary.

This is in spite of the fact that the DCSF has repeatedly argued that total inclusiveness is absolutely necessary to improve detection of child abuse. It also undermines ministerial contentions that ContactPoint will help to avoid a repeat of the Victoria Climbié case, which was characterised by the child being brought at different times to different casualty departments.

The DCSF went on to resist pressure from an ACPO representative for greater availability to serving Police Officers on what look suspiciously like political grounds.

Responding to Police concerns that access to ContactPoint was too restricted, the DCSF observed that "the department would find it hard to go back to Parliament to say that 200,000 police officers would now like access".

It was at this point that the ACPO spokesperson expressed their concern that children might slip through the net and wonít be safeguarded. The DCSF response was: "You could not guarantee this anyway".

At the same meeting, a representative from the Office of the Information Commissioner raised the issue of how ContactPoint could be made available in a busy A&E department without compromising security.

A member of the Barts and London Trust questioned how checking on children in such circumstances could be possible. Various other committee members suggested ways in which wider access in A&E could either help support detection of issues of child abuse or help improve the use of resources.

However, the DCSF made it clear that agreement had been reached with the Department of Health for A&E visits to be recorded on the NHS System and that A&E visits tended to be for minor concerns anyway.

Responding to the above revelations, Maria Miller MP, Conservative spokesperson on this issue, said: "The government has a poor record when it comes to setting up and managing large databases and is unable to give an undertaking that highly sensitive data about children will be 100 per cent safe.

"The welfare of children has to be our paramount consideration and that is why we would scrap Contact Point and ensure safer collection of data at the local level with a focus on protecting the most vulnerable children."

This debate would suggest that the inevitable cracks are finally begining to appear in the ContactPoint project. The logic of ContactPoint - and the original justification for it - suggests that it should be as widely accessible as possible

However, public concerns over government handling of data mean that it is no longer acceptable to give it the degree of access it needs. Instead, each category of user is likely to have to feed their requests through local gatekeepers.

This will make it less effective - and also impact on the cost savings the government claimed ContactPoint would bring about. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.