Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence



  The intention is that ContactPoint will be available in all Local Authority areas by the end of 2008. ContactPoint will be a basic online directory containing a record for each child up to the age of 18 in England. With their consent, the records of young people leaving care or with learning difficulties can be retained up to the age of 25. The record will contain basic demographic information about the child, details of the parent/carer(s) and the name and contact details of practitioners working with the child. It will not contain case information. The purpose of ContactPoint is to save time and support early intervention by allowing authorised practitioners to see who else is working with the same child.

  ContactPoint is being established under section 12 of the Children Act 2004. Draft regulations made under this section are currently being finalised and are due to be laid before parliament before the summer recess. These regulations are subject to affirmative resolution.

  ContactPoint will be populated with data from a range of existing national and local systems. Section 12 and the draft regulations set out what data is to be held and lists the persons and bodies who are permitted or required to supply this data. It is anticipated that these data sources will include case management systems used by Youth Offending Teams and in the future the e-Borders system currently being established by the Home Office.

  The purpose of ContactPoint is to support Children's Services Authorities and their partners in their duties to co-operate to promote the well-being of children, and to safeguard them and promote their welfare, as set down in Sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004 and in the safeguarding duty on school and colleges in Section 175 of the Education Act 2002. The purpose of ContactPoint is not to support the fight against crime.

  ContactPoint will not be used to profile children or young people. No support for profiling is being designed into the system. Through extensive work with practitioners ContactPoint has been designed to help practitioners to find out who else is working with the same child or young person, making it easier to deliver more co-ordinated support.

  Access to ContactPoint will be restricted to authorised staff who need it as part of their work. The regulations detail the categories of practitioner who are eligible to be granted access to ContactPoint, these include police officers, members of youth offending teams and staff at secure training centres. An individual will only be granted access if it is clear that they need access to support their work on safeguarding or improving wellbeing for children. It will not be acceptable for users to access the system to support enforcement activities. This is made clear in the draft ContactPoint guidance, currently available for public consultation (closes 27 July 2007).

  Before being granted access, individuals will also have to attend training and have received an enhanced disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau (or equivalent vetting for police). All users will be authenticated to ContactPoint using strong (2-factor) authentication techniques in line with the e-Government Unit (eGU) guidance. Every access will be monitored and audited. Potential misuse will be subject to investigation and if necessary disciplinary and criminal proceedings.

  There are no plans for data sharing between ContactPoint and the National Identity Register. The bulk disclosure of data from ContactPoint will only occur in anonymised or psuedonymised form. This is to support statistical analysis and for research purposes.

  The draft regulations provide for the Secretary of State or a local authority to disclose information from ContactPoint where this is required by a court order or where this disclosure is necessary for the prevention or detection of crime of the prosecution of offenders. These provisions are intended only for limited circumstances are will be subject to a judgement on a case by case basis. As stated previously, ContactPoint is not intended to provide a tool for use in the fight against crime.

July 2007

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