ContactPoint will be switched off on 6 August, ministers announced today.
In a ministerial statement, children’s minister Tim Loughton said from noon that day users would no longer have access to the database that was set up to allow authorised children’s services professionals across England to see who else was working with a child or young person. The data itself will be destroyed within two months of the closure.
“We have considered carefully whether it is necessary to keep the existing ContactPoint database operating in order to move towards a more targeted approach. It is now clear that it is not and in the light of the coalition government’s clear pledge to end ContactPoint as soon as practicable we will now proceed to shut it down,” Loughton told parliament.
An update on a national “signposting” system to replace ContactPoint will be given in the autumn and Loughton said it would have to be low-cost and fit with the aims of the Munro review.
“I recognise the problem that the previous government was trying to solve in establishing ContactPoint…Experience has shown the value of a quick and reliable means of discovering whether another professional has worked with such a child. It is worth considering a national approach to that issue.
“Social workers in particular, and potentially other key services like the police or accident and emergency departments, may need this information very quickly. Such a service must aim to ensure that these children are not ‘lost’ to social care services when they move. We are working closely with our partners to assess the feasibility and affordability of such an approach.”
The closure of ContactPoint will have a knock-on effect on the e-CAF system – the electronic common assessment framework currently being rolled out to early adopters. A letter sent to local authorities today states that problems are in the process of being resolved and further information will be given “in due course”.
Ring-fenced funding for the database will continue until 31 August and will be two-thirds of a full quarterly grant payment in order to cover the costs of decommissioning. Contactpoint tokens need to be reset and returned to the Department for Education by Friday 13 August, the letter stated.