The introduction of the national children’s database ContactPoint has been suspended after local authority staff discovered loopholes in the system designed to protect the most vulnerable young people.

The Department of Children, Schools and Families said it had “paused” the flow of data into ContactPoint from sources such as the child benefit database after local authorities found unprotected duplicate files were being generated by central government data feeds.

The system allows a local authority to hide a child’s details but the duplicate files meant copies of personal data were remaining on the system.

Other problems with the database, which will hold the demographic details for 11m children under 18 in England, include adopted children being listed on the system both by their original and adopted surnames, making it easier for them to be tracked down.

The database was launched in January when two security vetted officials from local authorities across England were trained to use it. It was due to be used in 17 local authorities this spring, followed by national roll-out in the summer.

A statement issued by the DCSF said ContactPoint would not be extended to all local authorities until both local authorities and the DCSF were satisfied that the issues with the system had been addressed.

It added: “We are aware of the issues raised and are tackling them, working closely with local authorities. We have always emphasised that we would take a prudent and incremental approach to delivery and that is what we are continuing to do.”

The DCSF said it had a few reports of cases where updates from existing national sources have resulted in records not being matched as expected. It said these were being investigated and the thresholds used by ContactPoint to improve matching would be adjusted if necessary.

The DCSF added: “Meanwhile we have paused the ongoing data update while we investigate. We will not restart it if there is risk of introducing unmatched records for children whose existing ContactPoint records have been shielded.”

The DCSF also acknowledged the problem with adopted children, saying it was aware that in some instances identities might be linked.

It added: “We are working with national data sources to resolve this issue. The linking of these records is not against the law but we would never want to cause difficulties for adopted children or their families. Guidance is being updated.”

The launch of ContactPoint has already been delayed twice following concerns about its security.

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