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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 16:10 GMT
Child database system postponed
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Access to the system will be controlled and monitored
Ministers are postponing a new database on every child in England, pending a security review and changes to the system including its access controls.

Children's minister Kevin Brennan told MPs there would be a five-month delay to the £224m system, ContactPoint.

The security review was ordered after the loss of child benefit discs.

ContactPoint holds name, address, date of birth, gender, parental contact information, details of school and any professionals working with the child.

It does not include actual case records.

The database came out of the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie and is designed to make it easier to co-ordinate the work of different child protection agencies.

'Questions raised'

Mr Brennan said in a statement: "Over the last few months we have been considering the substantial stakeholder feedback we have received and looked at the implications that the resulting proposed changes could have on the system.

"It is clear from the considerable work we have done so far that we will need more time than we originally planned to address the changes to ContactPoint which potential system users suggested."

The change to the timetable will mean deployment to the "early adopters" local authorities and national agencies in September or October 2008, and to all others by May 2009.

Mr Brennan said the loss of the Revenue and Customs child benefit data "has raised questions about the safety of large scale personal data in other government systems, including ContactPoint".

An independent assessment of security procedures would be undertaken by Deloitte.

"Delaying the implementation of ContactPoint will enable the independent assessment of security procedures to take place as well as address the changes to ContactPoint that potential system users have told us they need," Mr Brennan said.

He added: "The fundamental design of ContactPoint will not change; the alterations will make sure the system works even more effectively for users and improves the ability of local authority ContactPoint teams to manage user access."

Shadow Children’s Minister Maria Miller said: "The government should also use this opportunity to see whether it really is necessary to have a database for every single child in the country, accessible to 330,000 people, given the significant amount of concern that this could overload the system and lead to a dumbing down of information.

"We have always supported, as an alternative, a slimmed-down tightly controlled database which focuses on those genuinely vulnerable children."



SEE ALSO
Concern at pupil data microchips
23 Nov 07 |  Education
Data minister 'not told of discs'
26 Nov 07 |  UK Politics

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