ContactPoint database of children in England

January 2, 2009 at 11:44 pm | Posted in Children, ContactPoint, Privacy | 3 Comments
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Yes, today I did make a point of contacting the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) to ask who is responsible for ContactPoint in our Local Authority.

The Customer Services Centre representative had never heard of ContactPoint. I explained it is a database that stores basic personal information on each and every child living in England, and is (purported to have been) set up so that only authorised personnel from ‘the authorities’ can find out the other adult points of contact in that child’s life (parents, school staff, medical staff, social workers, etc.), and, according to RBWM website, the system is scheduled to go live in our area in April 2009.

These are the basic facts on ContactPoint from HM Government:

Every Child Matters: Change for Children: ContactPoint Fact Sheet

… and this is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:

ContactPoint

The reason I want to find out who is responsible for ContactPoint now, is that we parents would like to opt our children out of this database. Of course, I discovered that the Government has prevented opt-outs. This means that the only way to attempt to protect our family’s privacy is to accept that data on our children (and ourselves to a lesser degree) will be included automatically whether we consent to this or not, but we may request a ‘shield’ for our children to limit what is displayed to authorised users. Apparently, this shielding option (handled on a case-by-case basis) is what the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is suggesting and publicising to their residents, according to this article that appeared in the Telegraph during Christmas week:

Parents are encouraged to ‘shield’ children on database

The Customer Services Centre representative kindly tried, unsuccessfully, to connect me to Social Services for Children.

I rang three more times this afternoon, and even held on for seven minutes (obediently following recorded instructions to hold, assuring me an adviser would be with me shortly), to no avail. Next week, I shall try again, and intend to let you know how I get on, so we can decide what to do next …

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3 Comments »

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  1. Hi,

    I just thought I can share my experiences so far.

    On the 9th December 2008 I wrote an e-mail to my County Council requesting access to my children’s details on the ContactPoint, as is my right under The Data Protection Act 1998, to check that the details they hold on my children is correct and accurate.

    I received a prompt response, the next day (10th) from the County Council’s customer services, saying that they have forwarded my e-mail request to “Making Links Team (the department responsible for ContactPoint) who will reply to you directly”.

    So far so good. Then nothing. I put it down to being Christmas time.

    Then on the 6th January 2009, I received an e-mail from the Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer, at the Children and Younger Adults Department. He wrote:

    “At this moment in time, ContactPoint is not populated with any of our pupils details, but when it is, you will be able to check whether the information the Council holds about your children on the Database is accurate and correct by making a subject access request (by letter, fax or email) to me at Children and Younger Adults Department, (deleted) County Council, County Hall. On receipt of the request you will be asked to provide information to prove that you are the data subject or represent the data subject and a £10 fee. The £10 fee applies to each and every data subject in the request. On receipt of the completed application form along with the fee and all necessary information you will receive an acknowledgement letter. Once the information has been retrieved from ContactPoint it will be sent to you with a covering letter. I will try and establish from colleagues approximately when ContactPoint may be populated with pupil details and will let you know.”

    I have also noticed that Manchester City Council have issued a Fair Processing Notice at http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?categoryID=15&documentID=3196&pageNumber=4 whereby again, it is ‘signed’ by the Data Protection Officer and their children’s services. You could try contacted your Data Protection Officer at the RBWM? They at the very least should be in the know.

    The RBWM also has a ContactPoint Fair Processing Notice (www.rbwm.gov.uk/web/social_integrated_working_contactpoint_fpn.htm) but no contact details? Perhaps someone reading your blog from RBWM could amend this?

  2. It’s supposed to say 2009 not 2006!

  3. Thanks for your very informative comment, Laura.

    I too, have made progress, as the man responsible for ContactPoint in RBWM returned my call today; he was very helpful, and next week he will be sending me papers explaining the shielding of children’s information.

    I will write an update on my blog when I understand shielding better.


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