ContactPoint replacement may not be IT-based, says Loughton

ContactPoint may not be replaced by a computerised system, children's minister Tim Loughton said today.

ContactPoint may not be replaced by a computerised system, children’s minister Tim Loughton said today.

The government intends to replace ContactPoint with a national signposting system to help professionals identify concerns about vulnerable children. But this may not be IT-based, Loughton told the House of Commons education select committee, in an evidence session on child protection.

“The question is, what works to protect children?” the minister said.

Loughton added that, if the replacement was computer-based, it could include elements of ContactPoint, which was switched off last month.

“Part of the reason there was a delay in turning it off was because I wanted to see what we could cannibalise from that system,” he said.

Earlier in the session, Colin Green, chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ families, children and young people policy committee, said he was doubtful about the need for an IT-based replacement for ContactPoint.

“I was sceptical about ContactPoint, but I’m even more sceptical that we can construct something based on vulnerable children only,” he said. “It seems like we’re trying to solve what was nothing but a human problem. I think the money should go into training people on [ContactPoint] rather than a new system.”

Children’s commissioner for England Maggie Atkinson agreed the development of a new system was fraught, and that the definition of vulnerable children would be almost impossible to determine.

“If we’re going to have a system for the so-called vulnerable, I want someone to sit down with me and define what’s meant by that,” she said.

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