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Electronic Children's Database

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which public sector bodies will have access to the new electronic children’s database. (83014)

Practitioners from health, education, social care, and youth justice will be granted access to the information sharing index. Access will be granted according to the role of the practitioner. For example, in a school a small number of named designated staff, such as teachers of children with special educational needs or who have pastoral or child protection responsibilities, would have access.

We will be consulting over the autumn on draft regulations that will bring the information sharing index into operation. Among other issues, the regulations will specify the types of practitioners in the Children’s Workforce whose role would make it appropriate for them to have access to the index. All practitioners with access will have appropriate Criminal Records Bureau checks and have undergone relevant training.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the (a) personal attributes and (b) fields which the electronic children’s database will have the capability to hold. (83060)

The information sharing index will contain only limited and basic information about children in England and contact details for other services working with the child or young person. It will enable practitioners to identify and contact one another easily and quickly, so that they can share relevant information about children who need services or about whose welfare they are concerned.

It will not record information on personal attributes such as children’s diet, church attendance or school attainment. The Children’s Act 2004 specifically prohibits the inclusion of any case information on the index. There will be no subjective opinions or observations about a child or parent, no details of assessments such as the Common Assessment Framework and no automatic triggers for action or investigation.

Information fields on the index will hold for each child or young person:

basic identifying information: name, address, gender, date of birth, and a unique identifying number based on the existing child reference number/national insurance number;

basic identifying information about the child’s parent or carer;

contact details for services involved with the child: as a minimum school and GP practice, and other services where appropriate and if consent from the child or family has left obtained in respect of a sensitive service.

The facility for practitioners to indicate to others that they have information to share, have taken action, or have undertaken a Common Assessment Framework, in relation to a child; and

other information included solely for the purposes of identifying and managing the quality of data in the index, for example the date of the last update to the record.

We will consult over the autumn on draft regulations that will bring the index into operation. The draft regulations will be laid before both Houses for debate under affirmative resolution procedures. Subject to the will of Parliament, the index is expected to be available in all local areas in England by the end of 2008.