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Children: Databases

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 23 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much the ContactPoint database has cost to date; and how much has been budgeted to complete the project. (200108)

Approximately £103 million has been spent to date on the ContactPoint project.

The estimated set-up cost of ContactPoint is £224 million (most of which is expected to be incurred by the end of the financial year 2009-10). This includes: the costs of adapting existing systems that will supply data to ContactPoint and the costs of ensuring that data are accurate; adapting the day-to-day systems used by practitioners so they can access ContactPoint from them; and the costs of introducing robust arrangements to ensure proper security, and effective ContactPoint user training.

Thereafter, estimated operating costs will be £41 million per year. Most of this will pay for the additional staff needed to ensure the ongoing security, accuracy and audit of ContactPoint.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what (a) linkages and (b) cross checks are proposed between data records of individuals on (i) the ContactPoint database and (ii) other Government databases. (200109)

ContactPoint will hold, for each child or young person in England:

basic identifying information: name, address, gender, date of birth and a unique identifying number;

contact details for the child’s parent or carer;

contact details for services involved with the child: as a minimum school and GP practice, but also other services where appropriate; and

the facility for practitioners to indicate to others if they are a lead professional, and have undertaken a common assessment, in relation to a child.

There are no links in a child record to any other family members apart from the parent/carer details above. For safeguarding purposes, practitioners can make use of a facility in ContactPoint to search for previous and current co-residing children from a child record. In limited circumstances, details revealing the whereabouts of a child/young person and/or their parent/carer can be ‘shielded’. The decisions to ‘shield’ will be taken case by case, based on the level of threat posed if information about their whereabouts was to be revealed.

To ensure ContactPoint records are as accurate and up-to-date as possible, ContactPoint will cross-check, match and remove duplication of fragments of data received from a range of local and national data sources. These national data sources include a number of government departments, namely the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Children, Schools and Families, Department of Health and Office for National Statistics. This is a one way process. No data will be supplied to another system from ContactPoint nor will users be able to access any other systems via ContactPoint.

To support the Data Protection Act 1998, there will be mechanisms in place to notify data sources where discrepancies occur between differently sourced fragments. In doing so, the contents of ContactPoint records will not be shared with data sources.