Child protection database will be accessible to 390 000 staff.

The ContactPoint database will aim to improve the co-ordination between professionals, and will contain the name, address, date of birth, school, GP, and parent contact details of approximately 11 million children.
Trials are to begin with seventeen local authorities who will begin training staff in how to use the database and will eventually be open to access by professionals in the education, health, social care, youth justice and voluntary sectors.
Parents will not have the option to opt out of the system.
“There are two sides of the coin,” considers Josh Shaul, VP of product management at database protection company Application Security Inc. “There are security concerns and privacy concerns.”
He notes that with such a vast number of people being able to access the system, while most may be trustworthy, “there’s always that last one quarter of one per cent”.
“People can make innocent mistakes,” he says, adding that you cannot discount people with shady motives:
“The risk seems tremendous on the privacy side” Shaul adds, “On the security side, there’s this database that the government has advertised…it creates a juicy target that hackers can’t resist.”
Shaul worries that the full report on the database, from Deloitte and Touche LLP, was not made available to the public, and “didn’t come out all that clean”.
“They’re relying on security by obscurity – the bane of the security industry. It’s been proven to be the worst way to protect a system.”
The ContactPoint database was created under the recommendation of Lord Laming who led the inquiry into the death of eight year old Victoria Climbié, in North London, in 2000.
Children's minister Baroness Morgan has stated that it will be possible to ‘shield’ the details of children on the database who may have extenuating reasons why they cannot be identified, though it is not clear how this will be put into effect, or from who exactly the information would be shielded.
ContactPoint has come under attack from both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative party, whose children’s spokesman, Tim Loughton, asked:
"Which do you think is more likely to protect vulnerable children - investing in more permanent and appropriately trained social workers and reducing their caseload, or throwing money at another expensive data disaster waiting to happen?"
A register of over 11 million adults is also planned by the Independent Safeguarding Authority to come into fruition later this year.

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