Government to switch off ContactPoint in August

The ContactPoint database is to be shut down on 6 August, children’s minister Tim Loughton has confirmed.

Loughton says that the government is still committed to information sharing among children’s professionals, particularly those in different council areas, however, a “more proportionate approach” is needed.

ContactPoint would have held records on every child, a system that Loughton says was unjustifiable. Any new information-sharing system needs to focus only on the most vulnerable children, he added.

He said: “We are exploring the practicality of a new national signposting service, which would focus on helping practitioners find out whether another practitioner is working, or has previously worked, in another authority area with the same vulnerable child.

“Social workers in particular, and potentially other key services like the police or accident and emergency departments, may need this information very quickly.”

The government believes that the existing database is not needed for the development of this alternative system and it will be switched off next month. A process of decommissioning will then take place with all data removed and destroyed.

Guidance has now been issued to councils on ensuring data is protected during the switching off and decommissioning process.

However, the NSPCC has voiced concerns about the decision to shut down the database before a replacement is in place. A spokesperson said: “Numerous reviews into child abuse cases have shown vulnerable children are at serious risk when professionals fail to share information speedily and effectively.

“It is vital we have a system that allows concerns about children to be spotted and acted on rather than being allowed to fall between the different agencies working with them.”