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Children: ContactPoint

Volume 711: debated on Monday 22 June 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the first phase training programmes for ContactPoint management teams to be completed. [HL4245]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a written examination for professionals who work with children and young people to become authorised users of ContactPoint. [HL4246]

ContactPoint management teams and trainers are subject to testing as part of the ContactPoint training. There is no mandatory written exam for practitioners to become authorised users of ContactPoint.

In order for professionals who work with children and young people to become authorised users of ContactPoint they must:

have an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check, renewed every three years;

attend and successfully complete mandatory training on the use of ContactPoint, which includes security responsibilities, the importance of good security practice, the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act;

be provided with the ContactPoint security operating procedures; and

sign an end-user agreement form which sets out the responsibilities and commitments that an authorised user of ContactPoint agrees.

ContactPoint users will also need to be subject to monitoring by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) when it is introduced.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many households are in receipt of the direct mailing about ContactPoint; whether the direct mailing will be nationwide; and what the cost of the mailing will be. [HL4248]

The department and local authorities are making information about ContactPoint available to young people and their parent/carer using a variety of means and channels; for example, local direct mailing in some areas, leaflet availability at public outlets and leaflet distribution, articles and notices in national, local and regional publications, and posting information on websites. This has been happening for many months, and will continue to happen as ContactPoint is rolled out nationally. Local authorities are responsible for determining themselves how best to make information about ContactPoint available to the public, and the department has provided guidance to support them to do this. The department does not collect information about local direct mailing on ContactPoint; and therefore we cannot estimate the cost of this type of activity.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in what circumstances they would recommend that a child's record be shielded on ContactPoint. [HL4249]

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 those authorised users and administrators who have been subject to vetting and have completed mandatory training.

Shielding is an additional measure of security, relevant for the small minority of children and young people considered to be at an increased risk should their whereabouts become known. Shielding hides the contact details of the child or young person and their parent/carer, together with those of any practitioners involved with them.

The decision to shield a record must be taken by the local authority on a case-by-case basis and will be based on the level of threat posed. Local authorities must also take into account any views expressed by the child/young person and, where appropriate, their parents/carers and any relevant involved practitioners. We have provided statutory and non-statutory guidance and business processes to local authorities to help them in making these decisions and to help ensure consistency in decision-making across authorities.

It is vital that shielding is only applied where there are strong reasons—for example, where there is reason to believe that not doing so is likely to:

place a child at increased risk of significant harm;

put a child's placement at risk (in the case of adoption);

place an adult at increased risk of significant harm, and/or;

prejudice the prevention or detection of a serious crime.