The sudden postponement of the government’s flagship ContactPoint database last week was immediately shrugged off by ministers and civil servants as being due to technical problems. Embarrassing, perhaps, for a project costing the taxpayer pounds 224m, but simply a matter of taking a bit more time to iron out glitches such as drop-down menus.
But an investigation by Education Guardian reveals much more fundamental concerns about hundreds of vulnerable children being put at risk because of flaws in the whole system, and raises questions over whether the government will ever get its ambitious project to work.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) insists: “We are working hard to iron out glitches before it goes out to users. This is not about security issues.”
But whether the database goes live next month as planned or in January, as children’s minister Kevin Brennan rather shamefacedly informed MPs last week, security issues surrounding data on children are precisely what a lot of teachers and social workers are deeply concerned about. …
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), previously open in its criticism of ContactPoint, is nervous. “With any system like this, there are always going to be issues to iron out,” says ADCS spokesperson Richard Stiff. “But I defy anyone to stand up and say we don’t need data of this type. It’s ironic – we’ve been criticised for not taking enough action to safeguard children, but when we take steps to change this, we still get criticised.”
Because you’re doing it wrong!
Of course we need to ‘safeguard’ (this word is getting annoying) children. But we also need to be proportionate with our proposals to help them.
When you have give 330,000 users access to a database containing the personal information of children you are putting those children at risk.