Along with many other parents across the UK, I have recently received a letter from one of my children’s schools informing me that legislation has just been passed “requiring Local Authorities to set up and run a nationwide database, known as ContactPoint, which will contain basic details about every child and young person under the age of 18 who is ordinarily resident in England”.
Why should this legislation have been passed? Why is it compulsory? Why should everyone have to be registered? In effect, as young people grow older, this database will eventually record information about everyone “normally resident” in the UK. It will provide yet another means through which the State collects private information about individuals, thereby enabling it to impose greater control over its citizens.
The ContactPoint website claims that ” ContactPoint will be the quick way for a practitioner to find out who else is working with the same child or young person, making it easier to deliver more coordinated support. ContactPoint is an online directory, available to authorised staff who need it to do their jobs, enabling the delivery of coordinated support for children and young people. It is also a vital tool to help safeguard children, helping to ensure that the right agencies are involved at the right time and children do not slip through the net”.
But does this require details on EVERY child in the UK to be recorded on a central database? The passing of this legislation on 26th January gives rise to very great concern:
- Why should every child need to be registered? Why does the state need to gain information about the name, address, date of birth, and contact details of all parents to be registered centrally?
- Given the inability of the UK government to keep such data secure in the past, there are high risks that this personal information will become accessible to a wide range of people in the future. Children will therefore be put at risk.
- There is no evidence that such a database will make any difference to early interventions when children really do need the State to intervene to protect them
- Who really benefits from this? Is it not the companies who have persuaded the Government to introduce such very expensive digital systems?
- What gives the State any right at all to collect such individual private information.
We must resist this ever great control by the state over its citizens – just because digital technologies enable us to do this, does not mean it is right.