Cllr Merrick Cockell, the Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council and Chairman of the Conservative Councillors’ Association, says that parents, not the state, should decide if their children are placed on a national database.
Few parents will have heard of ContactPoint but very shortly all children in this country will have their name, date of birth, address, GP, school and whether they are "known" to any care services listed on it. Their parents’ name and addresses will also be held. All this information will remain on the database until they are 25 years old.
This £224 million project may sound like something that can, by stealth, be turned into a national identity card scheme but the Labour Government claims that it will improve communication between agencies that were contributory factors in the terrible death of Victoria Climbie. However, as we now know, the death of Baby P had little to do with public agencies not knowing about this poor baby but rather failing to act to stop the abuse that led to his death.
In Kensington and Chelsea we believe that parents should be asked if they want their children listed on this national database accessible to literally hundreds of thousands of officials around the country. They may have very good reasons for not wanting them to be included. They may question this Government’s record on safeguarding personal data or not wish their own details to be openly available. They can apply to us (indeed every local authority with responsibility for education or children’s care) for their children to be "shielded". Of course, we will check to make sure that none of these children are known to be at risk but otherwise we will support parents’ rights to decide what is best for their children.
During January and February two staff from every council responsible
for child protection will be taken off for training how to use
ContactPoint. At the same time we will be asking local parents if they
are happy to have their children included. The decision will be for
them and we will back them rather than believing that the State should
decide such matters of liberty and principle. I would encourage all
Conservative Councils to follow our lead and ask parents to decide what would be best for their sons and daughters.
Like me, you might also question whether £224 million could be better
spent focused on children who are at risk of abuse or worse.