DCSF opens ContactPoint rules consultation

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The Department for Children, Schools and Families has launched a consultation on the rules for using England's children's database.

It has proposed a number of changes for the rules governing ContactPoint, which has been one of the most controversial government IT implementations of recent years.

The database holds basic contact information for all children, and was designed to make it easier for professionals who work with children to get in touch with each other. But it has been attacked by privacy activists as a risk to vulnerable children and the Conservative Party has pledged to abolish it if elected to government.

Changes proposed include:

• updating the law so that children who go to school in England while their parents live overseas will be included on ContactPoint

• replacing the definition of 'parental responsibility' with the more commonly used term 'parent' in order to ensure that the same legal terminology is used across different laws

• changing the term 'targeted and specialist services' to additional services

• when a decision is taken to shield a child's record, the name of their parent or carer will also be hidden, a move the DCSF said reflects existing practice

• making it clear, to conform to existing practice, that where relevant more than one address for an individual child can be held on the system

The department also said the national rollout of ContactPoint is on track and that practitioners across England can start to be trained and access the system from late October.

Children's minister Delyth Morgan said: "I am delighted that we are on track to begin to roll out ContactPoint nationally later in the year. We have received early feedback from the pathfinder areas which demonstrates the positive ways that ContactPoint is helping practitioners in their day to day work to intervene earlier and prevent problems escalating."

She added a claim that when fully operational, ContactPoint would save at least five million hours of professionals' time.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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