Feeds

ContactPoint rollout grinds to a halt, again

Come on, while we're young

Reducing security risks from open source software

ContactPoint, the child protection database set up after the murder of Victoria Climbie, has been delayed for the third time.

The brakes were first put on the project after the loss of 25m records by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs which led to a general review of the government's shoddy data security practises.

It was scheduled to open to "early adopters" in autumn 2008. Then in August we were told it was being delayed again because of user interface problems. The system is supposed to give social workers, police and NHS staff access to files on children so they can see if they are in contact with other government departments.

It seems the latest delay is to do with the issue of shielding; keeping especially vulnerable children - believed to include children of MPs and celebrities - off the database.

In January the database was opened to 300 people for testing - two in each local authorities. But this testing has revealed that supposedly hidden entries are automatically duplicated by central data feeds - local councils are responsible for shielding entries. Automatic updating of the system has been halted as a result.

17 councils were supposed to start using the whole database this month, but this has been delayed because 51 councils have still to complete their phase one tasks, the Telegraph reports.

A spokesman for the Department of Children, Schools and Families said:

ContactPoint takes data from existing national sources. We have had a few reports of cases where updates from these sources have resulted in records not being matched as expected. These are being investigated...Meanwhile, we have paused the ongoing data update while we investigate. We will not restart it if there is risk of introducing unmatched records for children whose existing ContactPoint records have been shielded.

Local authorities are already shielding records where they judge that there is a risk to a child or family or the adoption placement. We have been made aware that in some instances identities might be linked. We are working with national data sources to resolve this issue.

About 55,000 children, including those in witness protection schemes or in hiding from abusive family members, will have their records blocked. Fears have been raised over this, as around a million people will have access to the database. The government claims a figure of 330,000 for "users" of the system.

Concerns have also been raised about police access and whether they will use the database strictly for child protection or to trawl for those they see as potential criminals.

The system is provided by CapGemini. Creating the database for children in England and Wales will cost £224m and maintaining it will cost £44m a year.

The Tories have promised to scrap the system if elected. ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.