Contactpoint is a classic Government behemoth. A database which has so far cost £224 million to implement and will cost £41 million a year to run, it is designed to contain all the professional contact details of every one of England’s 11 million children.
Conceived in the aftermath of the Victoria Climbié tragedy in 2003, ContactPoint was part of the Government’s solution to child protection. The other part? The abolition of the tried and tested child protection register. Thus was borne a typically bloated New Labour creation: expensive, unnecessary, but worst of all, unsafe.
Because this Government has displayed the most extraordinary incompetence in its handling of IT projects, it is extremely unlikely that this body of data will be either accurate or secure. The DCSF has, in effect, already admitted this by making provision for some children – the children of celebrities and MPs – to have their data ‘shielded’. This is the loophole that proves the lie: if the Government had any faith in the security of ContactPoint they would not have needed to invent shielding, as it is we will have a two-tier database with one set of rules for a privileged few and another for everyone else.
We think it is what people do with that information that counts. We are committed to cutting back on the paperwork and desk time that stifles professional action and deprives vulnerable children of time with social workers. We will free the workforce from box-ticking and form filling so that it can concentrate on talking to genuinely needy children – children who have been abused; children in care; children from households suffering domestic violence – their families and other professionals.
This is why, since its inception, we have consistently opposed ContactPoint and why at Conference in October Michael Gove committed us to scrapping it.
This project puts the details of 11 million children into a database assembled and run by a Government singularly incapable of keeping our data safe. As ContactPoint begins to impose itself upon the lives of English families, the public are starting to wake up to the idiocy of this brave new reality. It is time the Government did likewise.
Anyone who would like to have their child’s data shielded on ContactPoint should immediately contact their local authority for information.