The controversial children’s database ContactPoint is to be shut down on 6 August, the government has announced.
In a written statement, education minister Tim Loughton said the government was fulfilling its long-standing commitment to close the database.
ContactPoint was launched by Labour in January 2009 to provide demographic data on every child in the country, plus the name and address of any professional working with them.
Loughton added: “It has always been our view that it was disproportionate and unjustifiable to hold records on every child in the country, making them accessible to large numbers of people.”
The minister said instead the government was exploring the practicality of a “national signposting service”, which would focus on helping practitioners find out if another practitioner is working or had worked in another authority area with a vulnerable child.
He added: “Such a service must aim to ensure that these children are not ‘lost’ to social services when they move. We are working closely with our partners to assess the feasibility and affordability of such an approach.”
In a letter to directors of children’ services and chief executives of ContactPoint, Tom Jeffrey, director general for children and families, set out more detail on the decommissioning of the database.
Jeffrey’s letter says ContactPoint will be switched off at noon on 6 August and the database will be permanently deleted within eight weeks.
It says ministers recognise the “significant advances” made by many local authorities in improving the quality and use of local data, which it says has been in part stimulated by ContactPoint.
It adds that building on those advances can help improve service efficiency and transparency and inform better commissioning.
The letter says closing down ContactPoint has some implications for the continuing roll out of the electronic Common Assessment Framework and that changes will need to be made to the e CAF system, processes and supporting documentation with more details due to follow.
The decision to close ContactPoint was welcomed by those who had campaigned against the database.
Terri Dowty, director of Action on Rights for Children, said: “Getting rid of it is a sensible decision, and we hope that it is the first of many.
"An enormous range of systems has been developed for monitoring children in an attempt to predict whether they will become criminals, get pregnant or fail their exams. These must also go, so that we can turn our attention back to genuine child protection."