Children’s Database regulations

July 16, 2007

We’re still here, but still a bit too busy to post just at the moment.

The ‘Contactpoint’ regulations will be put before the Lords this Wednesday, and the Commons Delegated Legislation Committee next Monday. It really is quite extraordinary that the explanatory memorandum came out during the Blair/Brown handover, the draft regulations just after the car bombs and now the parliamentary scrutiny is just before recess, when some MPs and Peers will already be heading off on holiday. It doesn’t exactly inspire us to optimism about any new dawn of spin-free politics.

the Lords’ Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee has reported on the regulations. Their summary:

We are in no doubt about the importance of these Regulations. They set out the details of the “ContactPoint” database which will hold basic identifying information on all 11 million children in England under the age of 18, and which will be accessible to over 300,000 users. The Government have shown a thoroughgoing commitment to preparing for the national operation of the scheme, through large-scale expenditure and wide-ranging engagement with all interested parties. However, the Government have not in our view conclusively demonstrated that a universal database is a proportionate response to the problem being addressed. While the Government have taken the need for security seriously, the scale and importance of the scheme increase the risk that any accidental or inadvertent breach of security, or any deliberate misuse of the data, would be likely to bring the whole scheme into disrepute.

Our submission (one of many to various select committees that have kept us burning the midnight oil) can be seen here.



July 7, 2007

From the BBC:

A police officer who sold secrets to a private investigator has been jailed at Southwark Crown Court for 15 months. Det Sgt Paul Dennis, 48, passed details of car owners, previous convictions and police inquiries to Owen Griffin, 53, a former colleague turned private eye.

The Police National Computer has one of the most substantial audit resources of any system and yet, as the Independent Police Complaints Commission commented five years ago:

Every year sees complaints alleging the unauthorised disclosure of information from the Police National Computer. Forces have reviewed their methods of preventing unlawful entry but there will always be a few officers willing to risk their careers by obtaining data improperly.

Shh! The ContactPoint regulations arrive

July 3, 2007

Very quietly, the regulations to bring the children’s information-sharing database – ContactPoint – into being have slipped on to the draft statutory instruments website. There’s also an explanatory memorandum. (pdf)

There doesn’t seem to be a date yet for the debate, but the Lords select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments will be taking oral evidence from the DfES (or whatever it’s called nowadays) on July 10th.