The Council has reservations about the scheme. These include concerns about the lack of publicity surrounding it and about security and confidentiality issues.
There are 33,000 children in Kensington and Chelsea. The Government expects their details to be included on ContactPoint and has made the Council responsible for the upkeep of that information.
The Government wanted the first 17 councils that are introducing ContactPoint to be using it from April 2009, with other councils – including Kensington and Chelsea – following in due course.
Although glitches in the system may delay the start date, the personal information of children living in the borough will be available to those first 17 councils as soon as they ‘go live’. Information on ContactPoint will include name, address, gender, a unique identification number and name and contact details of the child’s parent or carer. It will also show the child’s GP practice, health visitor, school and school nurse but not the detailed information that a GP or school would have.
The Government currently estimates that around 390,000 people who work with children will be able to access the database nationally. They will be fully trained and follow strict confidentiality guidelines.
Safeguards and confidentiality
Although the Government maintains that the security of ContactPoint is of paramount importance and that it has been rigorously tested, Kensington and Chelsea Council is concerned about security issues and the ability of the database to keep information about children who are adopted confidential.
At the time of writing representatives from the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) were still trying to remedy security issues that had been identified in the system.
The Government has proposed something called ‘shielding’ as an extra measure to protect children and families from harm. Shielding means hiding details of the child’s, young person’s or family member’s whereabouts and reflects the fact that the Government accepts that a small number of children, young people and their parent(s) may be put at significant risk if their whereabouts become known. If a child is shielded, only their name, date of birth, gender and unique number will be visible.
The Royal Borough is encouraging parents and carers to consider shielding for their child or children. The Council will deal with each request for shielding individually and according to its shielding policy. Parents or carers who want the Council to exercise its discretion regarding their data should get in touch as soon as possible. Children and young people themselves can also apply for shielding.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is determined to support the best interests of its children and to address the understandable anxieties of parents/carers. Any request to ‘shield’ a record should include the reason why ‘shielding’ would safeguard the child. The Council will need to verify the applicant’s relationship to the child.
To enquire about shielding contact the CAF and Integrated Working Team on 020 7598 4694 or email: email@example.com
What do you think?
Email your comments on this story to: firstname.lastname@example.org