The introduction of the national children’s database ContactPoint has been delayed until January 2009. The pilot of the delayed programme was to have begun in October.
The delay is the second postponement of the system that was originally due to have gone live in spring 2008. The project was delayed in November 2007 to a September 2008 start after a review of the security of the database identified concerns.
Children’s minister Kevin Brehhan said “some issues” with the system had been identified during internal testing. He said more tests were needed to get the system right. The minsiter said that further testing was required, including with users of the system.
In a letter to Barry Sheerman, MP, chairman of the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committe, Mr Brennan said ContactPoint was close to deployment, but said further final testing was needed.
Shadow families minister, Maria Miller, said the problems with ContactPoint had long been known. “There were clear indications in February of significant security concersn with this database.”
She added: “Only now, with just weeks to go until the project is supposed to go live, have they finally agreed to pull back and try to iron out some of the problems.”
The news of the delays comes only days after the government revealed that police would be granted access to the system in order to detect instances of criminal activity.
The database was originally concieved to enable health, education and social workers to share information on vulnerable young children.
The proposed database will include childrens’ details, including their names, date of birth, address, doctors and schools. Data to be included will include demographic data from the national NHS Spine personal demographic record.
There have been widespread concerns expressed about the security of a system that will hold such sensitive data being available to people from so many different agencies.
The government’s decision to press ahead with ContactPoint comes despite a November 2007 report it commissioned from Deloite and Touche that identified a “significant risk” to the system due to differing security procedures from organisations who will access the data.