back to article Did UK.gov break the law with its child database?

Did the Department of Education (DoE) – or Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), as it was then known – knowingly break the law in its establishment of the ContactPoint database? The instant answer is: we don’t know. However, a history of excuses, delay and avoidance of awkward questions is starting to mount up. If the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    eCAF

    ContactPoint (sinister though it was) is only the directory.

    eCAF was the system with acutely sensitive information that was shared between thousands of people in the police, health service, schools, charity workers and social workers.

    ContactPoint might have been undone, eCAF wasn't.

    You could ask searching questions about the requirements and design of ECAF too.

    See http://tinyurl.com/37cfax6

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard Practice

    " If the department has nothing to hide, it is certainly acting as if it has."

    Surely that's standard practice in the Civil Service when asked a question. Old habits die hard and all that, I bet most Civil Servants are evasive at any question more complex than "fancy a pint?".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      "fancy a pint?"

      Believe me even that one is a toughie.. should they log it as a gift? if they accept will they be required to reciprocate, and will expenses cover it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    DOE

    Department of Excuses.

  4. Dr. Mouse

    Maths?

    I may be wrong, and it may be due to rounding errors, but you state that the number of people able to access the info would be 25% higher than originally stated. However, the numbers are 300k and 400k which, if exact, would give a 33% increase.

    Any chance of a clarification?

    1. Jane Fae

      Mathematically challenged

      The numbers aren't exactly anything, since at various points throughthis process, the DCSF was quoting dfferent approximations and ranges. The start figure, in one place, was 320k...which would give the lift to 400k as 25%. However, they didn't even forecast a definite rise to 400k: it was a range.

      The bottom line is: at one point they were suggesting about 300k. At another, they were suggesting about 400k. If you take bottom of lower range to top of higher range, you are probably looking at an increase of the order of 40-something percent. If you take top of lower to bottom of higher, you are closer to 20%. Guess i may be letting them off lightly by notgoing for the most extreme figures.

      jane

      1. Dr. Mouse
        Thumb Up

        Thanks

        Cheers for that, Jane

  5. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Sigh

    Only in government IT could a glorified address book come with a budget of a quarter of a billion pounds. It's sheer lunacy that at no point a civil servant looked at the escalating cost and asked whether or not something was going wrong somewhere, or question exactly why said address book seemed to require 1500 man years of development time (assuming we rather generously pay our devs £100 an hour). Seriously. Give me a million quid, I'll write you something to collect a name, address, phone number, and allow you attach notes...

    1. a_c_g_t

      Seriously

      If you get the contract I'll do it for £750,000 of that £1m and give you £250,000 for doing nothing but sending me the specification.

      :)

  6. David Pollard

    Don't forget where RYOGENS was heading

    Power to El Reg's elbow and all that, but as AC says above in relation to eCAF, there is a whole bunch of stuff beyond the ContactPoint database.

    To say that "the original vision" was just "wide-ranging information about all children, available to all" is to miss the point somewhat.

    Here is how Warwickshire (Agenda No. 11, 16th June 2005) described what they were up to:

    "RYOGENS is an electronic information sharing system, enabling any agency using the system to identify and log concerns about children and young people. Current information sharing protocols allow the sharing of information about children and young people who are thought to be showing early signs of anti-social behaviour or offending. It is anticipated that this definition of concern will be expanded with the development of broader information protocols."

    'Thought to be showing early signs ...' eh?

    1. sheila
      WTF?

      From 2004 introduction to Ryogens

      Table 2: Reasons currently identified for sharing information about Children and Young People without consent

      www.localtgov.org.uk/.../Ryogens/.../EXAMPLE%20Ox%20Evaluation%20Final%20Report.doc

      Drop down list of choices to share information without consent with enabling legislation.

      Too long to copy but includes this gem:

      Promoting social inclusion (including the reduction of risk factors).

      Section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 -discretionary power for LAs to do anything likely to promote or improve the "economic, social or environmental well-being" of their area. Aim is to help LAs ensure service delivery is co-ordinated in ways which minimise duplication, maximise effectiveness and present a concerted approach to the causes of complex problems such as social exclusion.

  7. Jemma
    FAIL

    ...all that needs to be said...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK_3I0MiAP8

    "... I'm gonna take the lights down, and change the mood...."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    eCAF

    Rumour has it that eCAF is screwed without ContactPoint, because amazingly it provided the Contact Points.

  9. sheila

    Funnily enough...

    ...the data to be gathered about every child and associated adults under the Scottish Getting it right for every child initiative (Girfec) bears an uncanny resemblence to the eCAF.

    I've ranted on elsewhere on these forums about how I suspect the Scottish Girfec/eCare combo is destined for wider roll-out.

    Read Kenneth Roy in the Scottish Review:

    "'Scotland has quietly led the way in the national data sharing agenda with its innovative eCare programme,' enthuses a journal devoted to the exciting new world of information-sharing. The key word in that sentence is quietly."

    http://www.scottishreview.net/KRoy28.shtml

    http://www.scottishreview.net/KRoy29.shtml

    http://www.scottishreview.net/KRoy30.shtml

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