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Family Law

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31 JUL 2007

The Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2182)

These Regulations come into force on 31 July 2007 and are made under section 12 of the Children Act 2004 (the 2004 Act) and apply to the establishment and operation of a database in England, which will be known as 'ContactPoint'. They revoke (at regulation 14) the Information Sharing Index (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/983) which relate to a database that was established for the purpose of conducting data trials prior to the establishment of the database to which these Regulations relate.

The database is being established by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families under section 12(1)(b) of the 2004 Act, and will be operated with the participation of children's services authorities in England (local authorities). Regulation 3(1) requires a local authority to participate in the operation of the database in accordance with the Regulations. Each local authority will be responsible for any child record (as defined in regulation 2) which is allocated to it by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, or for which the authority accepts responsibility with the agreement of the local authority which previously had responsibility for that child record. The information which must be included in the database is limited to children ordinarily resident in England, and (with their consent) to young persons in relation to whom arrangements under section 10 of the 2004 Act may be made ('participating young persons'). Regulation 4 and Schedule 1 set out what information is to be included in the database.

Regulation 5 provides for duties on local authorities, as well as persons and bodies who disclose information for inclusion in the database, to maintain the accuracy of that information.

The database comprises two separate parts: the 'live' database (though not defined as such in the Regulations), which contains child records which for the most part can be read and added to by persons given access to the database (users); and 'archived information', which is not accessible to the users generally. Not all the 'live' database information in a child record will be accessible to users: information relating to sensitive services (that is, specialist or targeted services relating to sexual health, mental health or substance abuse), metadata and certain other information will not be seen by users generally (regulation 6(3)).

Regulation 6(5) provides that local authorities and users may limit access to (or 'shield') part of a child record. A shielded record will only display very limited information in a child record. There is a duty on the person making the decision to shield to take into account views of certain persons or bodies. These persons include (amongst others) the child or participating young person in question, and those persons (if any) with parental responsibility for, or care of, such a person. This is to ensure that a person making a decision on the shielding of information takes into account a range of issues, such as domestic violence.

The length of time for which information may be retained in the database is six years after it has become archived information (regulation 7(1)), although that may be extended in specified circumstances (regulation 7(2)). The date on which information in a child record becomes archived information is dependent on a range of factors, which are set out in regulation 8.

Regulation 9(1) provides that access to the database may be given by either a local authority, or those persons or bodies (called 'national partners') specified in Schedule 2. The persons to whom access may be given by a local authority are specified in regulation 9(2) and Schedule 3. A national partner may only grant access to an employee of that national partner. Regulation 9(4) provides that a user's access can be suspended or terminated.

Regulation 10 sets out the conditions on access, which include enhanced Criminal Record Bureau checks, training and guidance. Regulation 11(1)(a) and Schedule 4 provide that specified persons and bodies are required to disclose information for inclusion in the database. Regulation 11(1)(b) and Schedule 5 provide that specified persons and bodies are permitted to disclose information for inclusion in the database. Specific provision is made about disclosure of information for inclusion in the database concerning any sensitive service which is being provided (regulation 11(4)). Regulation 12 makes provision as to how information is to be disclosed from the database. Regulation 12(1) permits the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families or a local authority to disclose information from a child record for specified purposes. Regulation 13 disapplies the common law of confidentiality in respect of access to the database and specified disclosures of information.

The Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007
(SI 2007/2182)

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