The ContactPoint database of all children in England and the electronic Common Assessment Framework system are “almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection law” and should be scrapped or “substantially designed”.
That was the message from Database State, a Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust-commissioned report published today, which charts the impact of the welter of databases set up by government to hold and share information on citizens and service users.
The report, written by information policy experts, warned that children were at risk of discrimination, stigmatisation and even abuse because of the way databases have been set up.
ContactPoint will hold basic information on all children in England, including contact details for parents and professionals, and will flag up cases where a child is receiving a “sensitive service”, such as social care.
Since January, two staff in each English council have been receiving training in shielding the details of children flagged as vulnerable on the database from most of the estimated 390,000 practitioners who will have access to ContactPoint.
However, today’s report warned that council staff would not be able to do this successfully.
It also issued a warning about the electronic Common Assessment Framework, which involves the digital storing of information gleaned through integrated assessments of children in need.
The report said that although families were able to opt out of having their information stored many were not aware of this right or that their data can be kept. It added: “The eCAF system will store masses of data to be widely disseminated among professionals leading to fears that children can be stigmatised.”