back to article Government delays ContactPoint closure

The Department for Education (DfE) has said it will temporarily maintain the controversial children's database but scale back its use. Tom Jeffery, director general of the department, has sent out a letter to directors of children's services in England telling them that ContactPoint will remain in use but that its operations …


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  1. Optymystic

    Smart Move

    After the massive investment there are few savings to be made by scrapping it because the cash has gone. Perhaps the ConDems have realised they would look very stupid if yet more failures of communication were attributable to the destruction of the system.

    1. Dave 3

      running costs

      Wikipedia lists the runnings costs as £41 million pa. Why keep throwing good money, after bad?

    2. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      Smart move??

      "After the massive investment there are few savings to be made by scrapping it because the cash has gone."

      That sounds as ridiculous Alan Johnson's argument that the Coalition should not scrap the ID card scheme because of all the money that has been spent on it already...

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Cost benefit anlysis

    Something I *seriously* doubt was ever carried out when this thing was started.

    It's been running long enough that *some* benefits must have surfaced, even if like the NHS system the are "Difficult to quantify"

    I was going to ask why it's still running but probably because the control-freak civil servants who pushed for it behind the scenes are still very much in place.

    And I'll bet that like the eCRB system it's a wonderful tool for CMA, "Look, I *did* put them on Contactpoint. OK I didn't actually go out and visit them for the next 6 months but they were *there*"

  3. nichomach
    Thumb Down

    Surprise sur-friggin'-prise...

    "...but says the government recognises the big investment made on the system – estimated at £227m over five years – and wants to make appropriate use of it where practicable."

    "It was evil when we were in opposition, but now that we've got our grubby mitts on it..."

  4. The Original Ash
    Thumb Down

    Fire him.

    Tell him he can make a database of his own kids and family's personal details, if he's that sold on the scheme.

    The Government wants to make cuts: So, cut the project. Now. It's not a difficult choice to make. Maybe that way they don't need to freeze my pay, but I understand if they do.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      It won't affect your pay

      Cutting it won't save them any money, the cash has already been spent. So there's no savings to be had, getting rid of it will probably have costs, in reverting to old systems.

      I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, on the grounds that they've been pretty good with killing off other databases so far. I'm presuming that the problem in this case is that there need to be local databases doing some of this work, so you can't just cancel it, unlike say the ID card stuff, where you can just kill the whole scheme. So social work departments will have to revert to whatever in-house system they were using before.

      1. Time for a career change
        Thumb Up

        Will it/Won't it go?

        Cutting it will save central government some cash, spent on maintaining and supporting the systems, software licences etc.

        Cutting it will save local authorities some cash, spent on licence costs, network costs to the central database, consultancy fees in ongoing maintenance, integration with in-house systems and expansion of Contactpoint.

        Local authorities will already have their own local databases of care details; Contactpoint was to keep a central database of which child was recorded on which local system.

    2. Josh 15

      We'll see more of this kind of thing...

      I'm afraid this is probably going to happen rather a lot. Grand government announcements are fed to a willing media, outlining the abolition of such-and-such a costly project/scheme/partnership, etc only to be found still in quiet existence some months down the line. It's most regrettable, not to mention plain dishonest of government ministers.

  5. Hieronymus Coward

    Well that didn't take long...

    ... how long until temporary becomes permanent?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    so, that's what the other hand was doing

    and what's going to replace it? To replace is to create ContactPoint2.0™. Another £227m+inflation with 227 evil points+toryInflation.

  7. iMlite

    Wheels within wheels

    The problem here (and I’m sure there will be others) is a structure has been created based upon a flawed policy. Systems have been built around this structure. Remove the structure and the systems collapse.

    I’m pleased to see the systems are being restricted which should enable the structure to be dismantled or changed – but how long will it take and how much will it cost is the real question!

    If the present government remains in office for a long time, I suspect that this will be one of those odd useless government departments new employees find still functioning for no apparent reason other than to give jobs to failed civil servants.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've said this before....

    They'll keep hold of it while it suits their nefarious ends.

  9. Phil A

    Yes Minister anyone?

    It's probably more of a case of the civil servants doing a Sir Humphrey Appleby and persuading the minister of the reasons why it needs to be kept (ie jobs for the boys). Scrap it, scrap it now and get out of our lives.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    meet the new boss..

    Uh huh.

    They haven't actually got rid of id cards yet, either...

  11. Melkisadek


    See, this is what happens when unqualified persons are encouraged to make decisions based on half-truths and forced agendas.

    All that has happened here is that the DfE have belatedly realised that ContactPoint was actually working and was fairly well balanced between privacy and prevention of harm. Like they were told by those that understood the system...

    However, as usual they chose to listen to the uninformed masses (like the posters above) and knee-jerked a reaction straight into their own net.

    The delay is presumably due to the fact that the Tories promised a replacement that didn't include every child but are now struggling to decide how to determine the scope of the system - the reason it was made universal in the first place.

    If every child is supposed to be on it then you instantly spot any that aren't (when you come into contact with them) and there is no stigma attached to being in the system.

    If you limit it to children that have needed an intervention of some kind then how do you prevent either (i) professionals ignoring a system completely because if they fail to use it on 'the one that slipped through the net' they will be castigated; or (ii) professionals logging every instance of contact with a child 'just in case'.

    Both of the above (or worse, a combination of the two at different institutions) makes anything other than a universal database largely useless. A victory for civil liberties perhaps but a serious failure of common sense.

    The success of contact point across different services was largely due to the fact that it was relatively simple but exceedingly useful to all sorts of practitioners/professionals.

    I'm sure the next Victoria Climbie will be overjoyed that her civil liberties weren't being infringed when no-one realised there was a problem...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Down


      A simple childcare question which should have a simple answer.

      IIRC correctly the average number of children known to Social Services across the UK who die each week is between 7 and 10.

      Has that dropped since Contactpoint was introduced? Only by now this system *should* have had a measurable effect on child death rates. I'm pretty sure that figure is available at the relevant government department.

      Victoria Climbie and baby Peter *only* made the news for the *severity* and long term nature of their abuse, *not* the fact it happened.

      Another kid on a councils at risk register dies. In new terms, so what?

      IMHO Trained professionals who actually do their jobs (like actually *seeing* the child their meant to) and use the full range of their powers stop children dying.

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