I take your challange.
"1. It would be a plus if childcare professionals had some means of identifying others who had had contact with a child they have some responsibility for, so they can cross reference with other proffesionals where they have grounds for suspecting abuse etc."
Does the database actually improve upon the situation? Or could the situation be better improved by increasing the number of care workers instead of squandering resources on irrelevant technology?
Would it not be more efficent to have dedicated case workers who manage only a small number of case workers along with a crash team? If something is suspected you refer it to the crash team who should be able to work on a problem immediatly (have people available to interview and having internal systems that keep information on active and past case loads).
Does such a database simply provide a "tickbox" mentality where if there's nothing of note in the database then there's no problem? Such systems often lead to a certain degree of lazyness.
"2. Technology might be able to provide an enabler - not a solution in itself, but something which will help facilitate the above happening."
Is it the right technology? How does it really help? Does it help anymore then good care workers with reasonable work loads? Do the benefits of such a scatter gun beat the benefits of having a few dozen more professionals? Could money be better spent on counselling and training for workers in the sector?
What are the downsides? Lots have been listed by others, more then I can be bothered to browse through.
"3. ContactPoint is an attempt to provide that enabler. Maybe it's the wrong answer - but if you think it is then do you have a better idea? Could technology provide some help with this problem, and if so then how?"
I have a great number of better ideas,
Increased numbers of social workers with specialised training.
A change in culture towards the social care and mental health care teams.
A redirection of funds from police to social care (as a number of criminal problems seap from social care problems.)
Increased community awareness of what can be done to help those in trouble.
A reduction in the peadophile mania where people with an interest in caring for children and teenagers are viewed with a quiet distrust by society and the media.
Improved localised systems for cases.
Improved cross departmental communications (not a list of numbers but face to face communications, people in all branches need to know that there are central numbers to call in case of incidents - such as a local specialist team possibly with members from multiple proffesions (medical/social/psychiatric/criminal/educational) that is always on call (yeah you'd need more then one person per discipline).
Counselling and support for those in the profession so that they don't end up leaving after a year or two due to the stress and horror of the job.
However most of those things are a bit to expensive (kids arn't that important apparently just good for a few news stories and a bit of propaganda) and the powers that be much prefer to look as though they're doing something as opposed to actually doing something helpful, and yes sometimes it's far better to do nothing at all then do something stupid - contactpoint is pretty damn stupid. For a number of reasons, however it's a pretty awsome elephant.