Database could aid information sharing

The 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 Climbi‚ Inquiry
heard last week.

Social 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 placement matches, could be used as a model
for the sharing of information held on local child protection
registers at a national level.

“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

Association 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

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

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

He said information-sharing had actually
worsened in recent years, partly as a result of professionals
mis-interpreting the Human Rights Act 1998 and Data Protection Act

“There 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.

Assistant director of children’s social
services at Southwark Council Romi Bowen predicted the introduction
of more multi-disciplinary teams would make sharing information

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