Contactpoint to be disconnected today and deleted in eight weeks

The Contactpoint database of UK children is being turned off today, 10 years after the idea was introduced by the Labour government.

The database was...

The Contactpoint database of UK children is being turned off today, 10 years after the idea was introduced by the Labour government.

The database was built following the Lord Laming inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, an eight year old who was killed by her aunt and her aunt's boyfriend.

It was launched last year and has since been dogged by security and privacy issues.

The aim was to give care workers access to information on who else had worked with a child - be it health workers, police or social workers. The plan was to improve communication between the different agencies to avoid another case like the Climbie tragedy, where communication was a problem.

But the coalition government says a national database of every child in the UK is not the best way to achieve the aim. The Department for Children, Schools and Families said, "Ministers do not believe that a database which holds details of all children in England and which is accessible to hundreds of thousands of people is the right way to help vulnerable children."

Some councils have already started implementing their own local systems that do a similar job, and the national database will be switched off at noon today.

The government says it is "exploring the practicality of a national signposting approach", which would help a limited group of practitioners to find out whether a colleague elsewhere is working or has worked with a vulnerable child.

The government has maintained a limited version of the database since in came into power, but from now on it will not be available to staff after network connections are disconnected today. Decommissioning will take longer, and the database will, according to director of children's services Tom Jeffery, be permanently deleted in eight weeks' time.

The department said it will be providing funding for councils to cover the costs of maintaining and shutting the database.

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