The children’s database ContactPoint is to continue to operate in a scaled down version while the government decides what should replace it.
The Department of Education has told local authorities that the government intends to end ContactPoint “as soon as is practicable”, but that ministers have decided to carry on with the database in a limited form until a new approach is agreed.
ContactPoint is the national children’s database launched by Labour in January 2009 to provide demographic data on every child in the country plus the name and address of any professional working with them.
It was created following Lord Laming’s inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie but criticised by civil liberties campaigners.
In a letter to directors of children’s services from Tom Jeffrey, director general, Children and Families, the DfE, said a new approach would focus on helping practitioners find out whether another practitioner is working with a vulnerable child and might provide a signposting service for a limited number of key professionals.
The letter adds: “The government recognises that significant investment has already been made in developing ContactPoint and the infrastructure that supports it.
"In considering a new approach the government will seek to make the most appropriate use of that investment wherever practicable.”
The letter adds that the department expects to be able to announce more detail on its future approach later in the summer.
In the meantime, ContactPoint is to continue to receive a feed of birth and death registration data from the General Register Office, but updates from the Department for Work and Pensions, NHS Connecting for Health and the Department of Education’s School Census will stop.
The letter says existing users can continue to use ContactPoint while it remains in operation but the training of new users is discouraged. However, a decision on that is left to local authorities and national partners.
Jeffrey says the DfE will meet its grant payment for the first quarter of 2010-11, which runs until the end of June but the government is considering the extent of grant funding beyond that period.
The plan to scrap ContactPoint was one of the first announcements made by the new government, and is set out in the coalition agreement that also commits to the end of the national identity card scheme, the National Identity Register and the next generation of biometric passports.
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