January 21, 2008 | Becky Hogge

Contactpoint and the eCAF: experts on film

Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) have today released a series of videos outlining the dangers posed to children by the Government's plans to roll-out ever larger databases which track their development and contact with social services. The two systems in the ACRH spotlight are ContactPoint, a directory of all children which tracks them from birth and provides a list of the agencies with which they have come into contact, and the Common Assessment Framework (eCAF), an in-depth, personal assessment tool for cross-agency information-sharing on children not seen to be progressing well enough towards the government's "five outcomes".

The videos are short, snappy, and well worth watching. Here are some choice quotes from the experts interviewed:

"This whole information sharing, 'Every Child Matters" agenda has been sold as a response to the death of Victoria Climbie. In fact that isn't true. This agenda was under discussion years before... It was initially envisaged as part of the e-Government agenda. The agenda to create a central spine... through which all services would be provided. And early on children were identified as a useful area to start."

Terri Dowty, Director, ARCH

"The methodology that has evolved in Whitehall... is towards building large centralised databases that allow greater... control of the activities of public sector workers out in the field. And I'm afraid that this has become a programme that has acquired its own momentum and has been driven as an e-Government thing, rather than as a social work thing. And that's wrong. If you want decent systems, they've got to be driven by the people who are actually going to use them."

Professor Ross Anderson

"The government's talking about over 300,000 people having authorised access. Inevitably, some of those people will be open to taking bribes to provide information from the database to people who shouldn't have access."

Dr Ian Brown

"The 'Every Child Matters' agenda is an agenda of criminalising children, rather than protecting them. If you're going to view children as potentially being a problem to society then it's very difficult to view those same children as possible victims of child abuse."

Dr Elizabeth Davies

"Too often, government responds to various legitimate fears about child protection and terrorism with the idea that what we need are ever larger databases [but] of you're looking for a needle in a haystack, why build an ever bigger haystack?"

Shami Chakrabati, Director, Liberty

Watch the videos here:

Check out ORG's campaign resources on Children's digital rights on the ORGwiki.

Comments (6)

  1. Andrew Foster:
    Jan 26, 2009 at 11:43 PM

    Will this problematic site "ContactPoint" have all our children’s names within Scotland on it? If this is true I think it is possibly against the children’s Human Rights in European legislation an issue which all concerned families should start shouting about. How dare any public servant who we may have voted for allow this to happen without a referendum by the people who put them in this position of supposed power. It's time to put all public servants in THEIR place which is to protect all of the United Kingdom from harm especially children the issue is that any DATA base is not secure in the United Kingdoms government departments (just look at the mess from the department of defence!!!). This is complete stupidity and if not opposed will bring our (your) Country into more disrepute than any other legislation since the beginning of parliament.

  2. Paul Anderegg:
    May 22, 2008 at 12:39 PM

    I cannot hear the soundtrack on any of the three videos. Is there a fault? Is there a written transcript available?


  3. Open Rights Group Newsblog : Blog Archive » Database of 11 million children begins rollout:
    Jan 26, 2009 at 04:11 PM

    [...] Kable See ORG’s Contactpoint and the eCAF: experts on film for more details on [...]

  4. Dennis Jones:
    Aug 29, 2008 at 10:28 AM

    I think Scotland have got this right!
    I'm not aware of the specific implementation, but the model is extremely effective bringing together the key information and people to make rational decisions, whilst avoiding the inevitable risks of 'not being my data/problem'.
    Wake up England, big isn't always beautiful.

  5. Harry Smith:
    Jun 04, 2008 at 03:05 PM

    Has anyone looked at what the solution is in Scotland through the Getting it Right for every Child Agenda. They are using something called an eCare Framework that is based on a federated system of viewing information relating to 'specific' children where agencies are working together. I believe they also have a secure messaging framework for sharing information where it is thougt that help may be required for a child and more information is neeeded to make that decision.

  6. Open Rights Group Newsblog : Blog Archive » Independent Schools Council warns parents about ContactPoint:
    Feb 27, 2009 at 03:18 AM

    [...] Source:The Times For more on ContactPoint see this video Contactpoint and the eCAF: experts on film [...]

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