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Children's database launched.

Summary: A database which holds the details of every child in the UK has become operational.

A database which holds the details of every child in the UK has become operational.

ContactPoint holds the name, ages, address and other information for an estimated 11 million youngsters in England for access by childcare professionals.

The Au224 million system was set up following the death of Victoria Climbie, who was abused by her great aunt and her boyfriend, but has been hit by a series of delays and fears over security.

Technicians will start training around 800 practitioners including social workers, police and health care professionals to use the database.

The pilot users are based in 17 local authorities in the north west of England and national voluntary sector partners, the charities Barnardo's and Kids.

More than 51,000 children deemed vulnerable have had their identities and information shielded, the Government said, after fears were raised about unauthorised access to data.

Ministers said ContactPoint would enable services for children to be more co-ordinated, freeing up more time for care.

Children's minister Delyth Morgan said: "Under current arrangements if a practitioner believes that a child is at risk or may need additional support, for example if they have a disability, they may have no way of knowing whether other services might already be in contact with that child.

"We estimate that ContactPoint, when fully operational, can save at least five million hours of professionals' time, freeing them up from trying to track down other practitioners and enabling them to spend more time on the child."

The system holds the name, address, gender, date of birth for children up until their 18th birthday, and their contact details for parents or carers.

Also held are details for the child's school, GP and other healthcare services such as social workers.

Last summer ContactPoint's launch was delayed a second time due to technical issues.

The Liberal Democrats have previously called for the project to be scrapped, calling it "intrusive", and the Tories have also raised concerns about its security.

But it is being backed by a range of children's organisations.

Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo's, said: "Ultimately ContactPoint has the potential to make the world a safer place for vulnerable children."

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:May 19, 2009
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