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Dec 15, 2021

ContactPoint was a government database in England that provided a way for those working with children and young people to find out who else is working with the same child or young person, making it easier to deliver more coordinated support. It was created in response to the abuse and death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié in 2000 in England. Various agencies involved in her care had failed to prevent her death, in particular by individually never realising other agencies had been in contact with Victoria.

Former government database in England
“Contact point” redirects here. For the headland in Antarctica, see Contact Point. For the electrical switch, see contact breaker. For the mathematical meaning, see adherent point.

ContactPoint aimed to improve child protection by improving the way information about children was shared between services. It was designed by Capgemini and previously had the working titles of Information Sharing Index (or IS Index or ISI) and the Children’s Index. The database, created under the Children Act 2004, cost £224m to set up and £41m a year to run. It operated in 150 local authorities, and was accessible to at least 330,000 users.

The database was heavily criticised by a wide range of groups, mainly for privacy, security and child protection reasons. On 12 May 2010 the new UK Coalition Government announced plans to scrap ContactPoint[1] and on 6 August 2010 the database was shut down. From that date the Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007, as amended in 2010, no longer applies.[2]

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In April 1999, Victoria Climbié (born 2 November 1991 in Abobo, Côte d’Ivoire, died 25 February 2000 at St. Mary’s Hospital, London) and her great aunt Marie-Thérèse Kouao arrived in London, sent by her parents for a chance of an education. A few months later, Kouao met Carl Manning on a bus which he was driving, and she and Victoria moved into his flat. It was here that she was abused, including being beaten with hammers, bike chains, and wires; being forced to sleep in a bin liner in the bath; and being tied up for periods of over 24 hours. In the period leading up to her death, the police, the social services of many local authorities, the NHS, the NSPCC, and local churches all had contact with her, and noted the signs of abuse. However, in what the judge in the trial following Victoria’s death described as “blinding incompetence”,[3] all failed to properly investigate the abuse and little action was taken. On 24 February 2000, Victoria was admitted into an accident-and-emergency department, semi-unconscious and suffering from hypothermia, multiple organ failure and malnutrition. She died the next day, aged eight. On 20 November 2000, her guardians, Marie Thérèse Kouao and Carl Manning, were charged with child cruelty and murder; on 12 January 2001, both were found guilty, and sentenced to life imprisonment.[4]

Victoria’s death led to a public inquiry, launched on 31 May 2001[5] and chaired by Herbert Laming, which investigated the role of the agencies involved in her care.[6] The report, published on 28 January 2003,[7] found that the agencies involved in her care failed to protect her and that on at least 12 occasions, workers involved in her case could have prevented her death. The Laming report led to, amongst other things, the creation of the Every Child Matters programme, which consists of three green papers: Every Child Matters, published in September 2003; Every Child Matters: The Next Steps, published in early 2004; and Every Child Matters: Change for Children, published in November 2004.[8][9] The database proposals were announced in September 2003,[10] alongside the publication of Every Child Matters, and was being created under Section 12 of the Children Act 2004. The idea of a child database, however, preceded the Laming report and was suggested in a report, Privacy and Data Sharing: The Way Forward for Public Services, by the Performance and Innovation Unit, published on 11 April 2002 – over a year before the Laming report – and was not related to child abuse.[11]

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