This story will not help the blood pressure of our regular readership, I am sure:
A flagship database intended to protect every child in the country will be used by police to hunt for evidence of crime in a “shocking” extension of its original purpose.
How marvellous. Makes one’s heart swell with pride.
ContactPoint will include the names, ages and addresses of all 11 million under-18s in England as well as information on their parents, GPs, schools and support services such as social workers.
Tremendous. I almost want to sing “Land of Hope and Glory” (sarcasm alert).
The £224 million computer system was announced in the wake of the death of Victoria Climbié, who was abused and then murdered after a string of missed opportunities to intervene by the authorities, as a way to connect the different services dealing with children.
The death of this girl, like that of all children in the care of monstrous parents, is a terrible story but the creation of this database is not the answer. Punishment of the offenders surely is (I’ll leave it to the commentariat for what those punishments should be).
It has always been portrayed as a way for professionals to find out which other agencies are working with a particular child, to make their work easier and provide a better service for young people.
However, it has now emerged that police officers, council staff, head teachers, doctors and care workers will use the records to search for evidence of criminality and wrongdoing to help them launch prosecutions against those on the database – even long after they have reached adulthood.
And this, of course, is the nub of the issue. Governments down the ages, whether in the real world or in the dystopias of fiction writers, have sought to spot criminals ahead of their actually being criminals. I remember watching the Spielberg movie “Minority Report” – loosely based on the old Philip K. Dick novel – and wondered just how long it would take for NuLab or its equivalents to come up with an attempt to do stuff like this. Now it is becoming reality. But although the creators of such databases may like to kid themselves that they are protecting the little ones, in truth, they are placing dangerous power in the hands of state officials that can be used against people for the rest of their lives.
I am glad the Daily Telegraph is creating a stink about this. Question: will the Tories pledge to shut this database down? (Cough, nervous laughter).