Experts debate merits of national database for children at risk

new national adoption register could be adapted or copied to create a national
database of children in need of protection, phase two of the Victoria Climbie
Inquiry heard last week (Friday), writes Lauren Revans.

Services Inspectorate assistant chief inspector in the north west Richard Jones
suggested the new register, under which local authorities are required to give
up information from their own databases to a national database in order to
achieve better placements matches, could be used as a model for the sharing of
information held on local child protection registers at a national level.

does seem to me there is scope in thinking how do we integrate some of our
current databases in a way that allows practitioners to operate more
effectively and more safely,” Jones said.

of Directors of Social Services immediate past president Moira Gibb said a
general database of all children would be “a huge problem in resource terms”,
but that a differentiated system which only recorded children at risk would
also create difficulties – particularly given the differing interpretations of
levels of risk between and within local authorities.

suggested instead using information technology to develop an information-sharing
network, which each agency could sign up to.

Sergeant David McCallum of Avon and Somerset police child protection team said
access to information held by other agencies through any such network would
benefit police child protection teams “massively”.

said information-sharing had actually worsened in recent years, partly as a
result of professionals mis-interpreting the Human Rights Act and Data
Protection Act.

is a fear of referring things because of criticism, because of a fear of
litigation, because of whether or not they will be criticised later – and I do
think that deters people,” McCallum said.

director of children’s services at Southwark Council Romi Bowen predicted the
introduction of more multi-disciplinary teams delivering services at the
frontline as part of the modernisation process would help redress the problem
by making it more natural for professionals to share information and easier for
service-users to understand how and with whom information would be shared.

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