The government is consulting on plans to share confidential data about children’s homes, including the addresses of residential units housing vulnerable children.
Outlining the proposals today, children’s minister Edward Timpson said it was “common sense” to share the names and locations of homes with police, the Department for Education and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
“There is a clear need for police, councils and Ofsted to work in a different, smarter way to tackle the ever-changing challenge of protecting our most vulnerable children,” Timpson said.
“Local police forces have argued for many years that in order to best serve and protect these children they need to know where they live. Our proposals simply reflect a common sense approach.”
Ofsted’s register of the names and addresses of children’s homes is already shared with local authorities on a monthly basis, but under the current rules the watchdog is not permitted to regularly share the information with police forces.
Deputy chief constable Patrick Geenty, lead on missing children for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the “encouraging” developments will further enhance the working relationships between agencies.
“This will ensure more effective and efficient safeguarding measures can be put in place for responding to incidents involving children’s homes,” he said.
The move has sparked some concern among providers, however, who say they are worried about how the sensitive information will be kept secure. Community Care also understands there was little prior discussion with the sector.
The Department for Education said a joint protocol is being developed with relevant bodies, including ACPO and Ofsted, to ensure children’s data is protected. It will clarify the rules around how information will be shared, by whom, and when. The government will publish more details in due course.
The consultation, which opens today (29 November), will run for six weeks until 10 January.
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