Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 16:54 UK

MP's fears at child risk register

John Penrose MP
Mr Penrose fears data could fall into the wrong hands

A Somerset MP has raised concerns about the safety of data held for the government's new child register scheme.

ContactPoint will retain records of all 11 million children in the UK. It aims to provide a database to be used by those working in child protection.

Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose said he was worried that the data collected in the project could be lost.

However Wansdyke MP Dan Norris, a former social worker, said the data was vital to safeguard children.

The information contained by ContactPoint will be accessible to at least 390,000 people nationwide, including health visitors and social workers.

It aims to provide a single point of contact to help avoid tragedies such as the Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter cases.

Smaller register

Mr Norris, who worked in a child protection team, said: "This new system is designed to make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing in such cases."

The real problem is children being harmed, rather than information being lost
Dan Norris MP

But Mr Penrose argues that a smaller register only containing details of children-at-risk would be safer.

"ContactPoint will cover every single child in the entire country and, given the government's record on holding personal data, I doubt parents will be confident that their children's information is safe.

"If it falls in to the wrong hands, children could be at risk.

"Parents aren't being told what the database is for, or that their child will be included whether they want it or not," he said.

The new database will be rolled out throughout the summer and local authorities will be responsible for collating the information.

Mr Norris said: "Every single inquiry looking into the tragic deaths or injuries to children since the Second World War has found that the key problem has been a lack of good quality communication and information.

"The real problem is children being harmed, rather than information being lost."



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