Headlines: January 25th, 2007



Children believe only those professionals who work with them, such as teachers or social workers, should have access to information from the Children’s Index. Youngsters who took part in a study published by the Commission for Social Care Inspection thought their family, friends, teachers, carers and police were most likely to keep them safe, but the children wanted to ensure they were safeguarded and said only those who really needed it should be able to access information about them.

Their views are contained in one of two reports from the Children’s Rights Director for England. The first looked at opinions on Government proposals for the operation of the new Children’s Index, which will contain basic information on every child in England. Children consulted in the writing of the report wanted access to the Index to be limited to those people who actually worked with them, such as teachers, doctors and social workers because they were concerned that otherwise their privacy could be breached, or the information could fall into the wrong hands.

Almost 70 per cent of the children supported the proposal that access would be controlled by a chip and pin system but 21 per cent had doubts and raised concerns about the security of the Index and said that like most computer systems the Index would eventually be broken into. One child told researchers, “It would be the simplest option to use a password and chip and pin, but this data is easily copyable, so if someone got hold of it, it would be easy to pass on information.”

The views in “Children and Safeguarding” were gathered through a two-week survey online and from discussion groups at some of which the children were joined by officials from the DfES. Those taking part were asked to list the most important things that kept them safe. More than 80 per cent cited their friends and family. Professionals such as the police and teachers were also high on the list as were using common sense and keeping away from troublemakers. The children also believed that harsher sentences for dangerous people would make them safer. Asked who they were likely to turn to first if they were being harmed or abused, 60 per cent of the children put families first with 13 per cent opting for friends.

Roger Morgan, Children’s Rights Director, said: “It is vitally important that children have a chance to have a say about proposals that affect them, especially when it relates to them being kept safe. All of the views have been fed back to the Government for them to incorporate into their consultation on the Children’s Index and review of safeguarding children procedures.”