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01 SEP 2008

Database of children is delayed following security fears

Following the news last week that a database containing the data of 11 million children in England will be used by police to tackle crime, the Government has announced a second delay to the launch of ContactPoint which will not become operational until the New Year at the earliest.

The ContactPoint database of names, ages, addresses and information of all children under 18 as well as information about their parents, schools and medical records, was due to be piloted from October.

Children's minister Kevin Brennan said the Government had "identified some issues as a result of recent system tests which we are working urgently to address". As a result he said he had "therefore taken a decision to postpone deployment until January 2009 to allow sufficient time to continue to test the system".

The database was announced following the death of Victoria Climbié, who was murdered after various opportunities to intervene were missed by the authorities.

The £224 million database is intended to prevent children slipping through the safety net by allowing social workers, schools, GPs and other professionals to share information if they suspect a child is in danger. However last week it emerged that police will be able to use the database to conduct searches for evidence of criminal activity. Police will not have access to case information on children but will be able to find out whether they have had contact with a Youth Offending Team or services such as drug rehabilitation.

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