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Children: Databases

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether the ContactPoint children's database (a) is fully accredited to Government standards and (b) has undergone a privacy impact assessment. (258414)

In response to part (a) of the question, ContactPoint is designed, built, operated and managed to HM Government standards for security and complies with the strict controls imposed by HM Government security policy. Data contained within the system are made available only to authorised users who have been subject to vetting and have completed mandatory training. Organisations that provide data or require access to ContactPoint must meet strict system accreditation requirements.

We have developed an ongoing systematic engagement of children, young people and parents, both at national and local levels, throughout the development and implementation of ContactPoint to ensure that any concerns about privacy were addressed.

We have sought to understand the views of children and young people, parents and carers, using a variety of methods, including:

directly seeking the views of children and young people from a wide range of backgrounds, facilitated by independent specialists in this field;

reviewing a wide body of independent research about the views of children and young people;

understanding the experiences of local authority trailblazers who developed local ‘pilot’ systems and who consulted with children, young people, parents and carers; and

engaging children, young people, parents and carers in a number of public consultations since 2003.

The views of children, young people, parents and carers have played, and continue to play, an important role in the development and implementation of ContactPoint.

This work has shown that, in general, children and young people understand the benefits of ContactPoint. Understandably, they want reassurance that the system will be secure and accurate; that practitioners will use their information appropriately and respect their privacy, and that access to ContactPoint will be limited to those who need it to do their job.

We have developed materials to help inform children, young people, parents and carers them about ContactPoint. These materials take into account Fair Processing Notice obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998. These materials are being distributed through a range of channels, national and local, which include direct mailing to households (where practicable), at points of service and public areas (e.g., libraries), on websites and through the media.

In addition, ContactPoint has been, and continues to be, subject to regular risk reviews, including the consideration of risks to privacy.