Government’s trailblazer children’s scheme hits legal snag

One of the government’s 10 identification referral and tracking
pilots has halted plans to create a pooled database of children’s
details due to concerns that it could be acting illegally,
writes Amy Taylor.

Bolton Council and primary care trust are currently considering
legal advice on whether it would be illegal for the PCT to pass all
of its children’s details onto an IT database accessible to other
agencies such as social services.

The PCT’s board is expected to come to a decision on the
situation at a meeting in November. “The partners in the project
now need to decide what action to take in light of the legal advice
that has been given,” a Bolton PCT spokesperson said.

The Department for Education and Skills said Bolton was
not acting illegally. “Bolton sought legal advice relating to their
scheme for enabling a more effective sharing of information, which
showed that in exercising their statutory duties they appear to be
acting within the provisions of the Data Protection Act,” a
spokesperson said.

The Bolton project distributed the advice it received to the
other trailblazer projects and Kensington and Chelsea then decided
to suspend its database of this type.

The spokesperson for Bolton PCT added that it hoped he new
legislation to aid information sharing outlined in the green paper
on children would resolve the issue.

Education secretary Charles Clarke told the National Social
Services Conference last week that he hoped a commitment for a
children’s services bill to include such legislation, would be
included in the forthcoming Queen’s speech.

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