back to article DCSF opens ContactPoint rules consultation

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has launched a consultation on the rules for using England's children's database. It has proposed a number of changes for the rules governing ContactPoint, which has been one of the most controversial government IT implementations of recent years. The database holds basic …

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Silver badge

Useless and Dangerous

They do like to load the questions in their favour, as with other DCSF consultations. The database is highly dangerous, putting a load of information in one place like that, just waiting for a memory stick or CD/DVD to be left on the train. MPs get an opt-out into the protected section, the rest of us don't.

As for content, I asked DCSF via an FOI request back in July for an overall statistic from ContactPoint (spit), but over two months later I've still not had a response so obviously it's going to be really useful as well as costing lots of money.

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Grenade

Have to laugh

"She added a claim that when fully operational, ContactPoint would save at least five million hours of professionals' time."

Well after the next election there, will be a mass exodus of professionals, if they aim to cut jobs and freeze pay, so they will need all the help they can get.

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Linux

Employee Authentication Sevice etc

The ContactPoint consultation is at

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationDetails&consultationId=1644&external=no&menu=1 (keep up at the back)

The DWP involvement is really with EAS rather than access to ContactPoint.

Contrary to an earlier posts on the subject, the shielding process appears to involve deleting the data,rather than denial of access to it, because an earlier bulletin has informed us that information was reappearing i.e. unshielded by the updating process, which leads me to infer infer that shielding was not implemented through access controls. An update of the data should not necessarily alter the information about who gets to read it.

ContactPoint does not hold much personal data it is really no more that a telephone directory of vital contacts, which leads on to one of the more farcical aspects of ContactPoint. Because it is a high profile government initiative, the level of security being applied to ContactPoint, the telephone directory, is much higher than that being applied to the systems which hold genuinely private personal data about kids.

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Anonymous Coward

As opposed to saving

5 million hours of unprofessional time? Those involved in that database can hardly consider themselves professional in the expert or moral sense of the word, professional in the money grubbing and grasping sense of the word, perhaps.

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Gold badge
FAIL

the consultation starts *now*

Funny but I thought you ran a consultation on how (and what) a system is used for *before* you implemented it.

And if you don't know what your going to use if for how can you know it will save *any* number of staff hours?

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Megaphone

Time to pull the plug

@Optymystic

"Contrary to an earlier posts on the subject, the shielding process appears to involve deleting the data,rather than denial of access to it"

Wrong. In some cases (ie adopted children) you have to keep re-applying to have your child's details shielded. I doubt that the data is deleted every time and then re-populated. If it was easy to repopulate the data the system wouldn't need to exist in the first place.

Of course the rules and working practices vary across the country. There is no consistency. Every council makes up their own rules.

"ContactPoint does not hold much personal data"

Really? Personal data is personal data. Just because you might not consider it "much" doesn't make it any the less valuable.

You also can't check that the data held about you is actually correct.

Regardless of the security applied it still isn't going to stop someone with access abusing the information. This already happens with other IT systems, the difference with ContactPoint is that it places lots of eggs in one basket and potentially threatens the most vulnerable.

The whole system is a disaster waiting to happen and should be binned immediately.

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Flame

Time...

"She added a claim that when fully operational, ContactPoint would save at least five million hours of professionals' time."

I assume by making this statement that she has detailed, published and peer reviewed scientific research to back it up.

NO ? !

Then it's just a load of old cobblers.....

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FAIL

Re: Time to pull the plug

Quite. And notice you have to apply, under a system where DCSF guidelines presuppose refusal in most cases - you have to prove to the local authorities satisfaction that not being sheilded will produce serious danger in your particular case.

Arguments about that issue alone are going to absorb more than 5 million man hours, would be my guess.

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Anonymous Coward

hmmm

ContactPoint may save some time of professionals but the fact is, a database holding records of every single child (minus politicians children of course), is going to take a lot of professionals time to keep up to date, a task, which hithertoo professionals haven't had to do.

This database does serve a useful purpose, but it also has a very sinister purpose: to keep records on everybody. As the years go by, this information is going to prove very useful to successive governments to monitor people - we were all children once.

What would have been far more effective, a much better use of professionals time, is to keep records on only those children that come into contact with Social Services, after all that's what it should be about.

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@Guy Herbert

"Quite. And notice you have to apply, under a system where DCSF guidelines presuppose refusal in most cases - you have to prove to the local authorities satisfaction that not being sheilded will produce serious danger in your particular case."

The vast majority of shielding has taken place because local Child Services deemd it to be appropriate - children of abusive relationships, witness protection etc. Also including the children of high profile public figures (which happens to include some politicians) who might conceivably be targetted. Yes, you can apply for shielding, but in most cases it will happen automatically.

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Anonymous Coward

Can't get a straight answer from DSCF

I have been trying to get the DCSF to answer me some simple questions for nigh-on three months, but haven't managed so far. Goes along these lines::

My own children were added to this database without my knowledge or consent and I don't have any way of checking whether their details are even correct. How do I go about this?

The stated purpose of ContactPoint is to "safeguard" children. In my own opinion, my children are not at any risk that they need safeguarding from, and I undoubtedly know my children better than the DCSF does. Perhaps you can tell me what you consider this risk is and how you seem to know my children better than I do?

More disturbingly, DCSF acknowledges that the mere act of putting a child's details on the ContactPoint database exposes a child to additional risk, hence the need for the "shielding" facility. But just what is this added risk? Can you provide details?

I have never got a straight answer from the DCSF yet, and they have always failed to answer within the time-limits they set themselves. They also told me several months ago that politicians' children are treated no differently from anyone else; funny that various news headlines from the past week show otherwise. What a bunch of lying scumbags.

The whole thing should be scrapped.

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