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Children: Databases

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 28 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities on ContactPoint in the last two years; (248766)

(2) what the implementation timetable for ContactPoint is;

(3) in which local authorities ContactPoint will be first implemented; and what assessments his Department has carried out of their capability to use ContactPoint.

We have provided, through our Local Authority Readiness Assessment (LARA) system, a wide range of guidance both for local authorities and local and national partners that covers legal, technical and operational issues. For example, we have issued guidance under section 12(12) of the Children Act 2004, which sets out the key statutory requirements of section 12 and the Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007. We have also issued guidance that covers project management and communications, the use of enhanced Criminal Record Bureau (eCRB) disclosures as part of an individual’s application to become a ContactPoint user and guidance on shielding records on ContactPoint.

We announced, in August 2008, that ContactPoint would be deployed from January 2009. We are on track to deploy the first phase from that date and will continue to keep Parliament informed of key developments.

Local authorities have been undertaking work with relevant local partners to identify children whose records may need to be shielded on ContactPoint. For the purpose of shielding only, ContactPoint will be deployed to all local authorities in England from January 2009. Wider ContactPoint functionality will be deployed first to the ContactPoint early adopters. The early adopters are 17 local authorities and two national partners, whose purpose is to test deployment and experience operational processes in a real environment. This will allow the national ContactPoint team to evaluate the processes and make any necessary adjustments, prior to full deployment of the system to other local authorities and national partners.

The 17 early adopter local authorities are Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Cheshire, Cumbria, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Sefton, St. Helens, Stockport, Warrington and Wigan. Two national partners, Barnardo’s and KIDS, are also early adopters.

All local authorities and national partners have been required to work through a series of detailed ‘readiness assessment’ checks and satisfy specified threshold levels, before progressing to the next stage. They are also completing monthly assessments of their progress. Early adopter local authorities have all completed nine readiness assessment checks to date. Other areas will complete a further readiness assessment before being accredited to grant ContactPoint access to users.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families who is responsible for entering children’s data into the ContactPoint database; and whether such individuals are required to have had a Criminal Records Bureau check before their appointment. (249010)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: ContactPoint will be populated from existing national and local data sources. The persons and bodies who are required and those who are permitted to supply information to ContactPoint are set out in the Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007. Securing data directly from existing practitioner systems will avoid the need for double data entry on the part of practitioners. Where direct data feeds are not possible, practitioners may be required to enter the information directly into ContactPoint by logging on via a secure web link or indirectly via an authorised user.

Everyone with access to ContactPoint, including operators and administrators, will be subject to stringent security checks, including enhanced Criminal Records Bureau clearance which will be renewed every three years.