Gov databases failing children and young people

23 March 2009 — Leave a comment

Back in November I wrote about the development of Government databases (such as ContactPoint) that collect information on young people. I mused that:

While there may be legitimate uses for this data, what is happening is that the records are never removed and so any interaction with the police, social services, schools etc. are permanently visible to the professionals who access the system regardless of whether a young person has reformed, changed, grown, or otherwise developed from when those interactions occurred.

Today The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has published a report on the UK Database State, which finds that:

  • A quarter of all major public sector databases are fundamentally flawed and almost certainly illegal. These should be scrapped or redesigned immediately;
  • The database state is victimising minority groups and vulnerable people, from single mothers to young black men and schoolchildren;
  • Children are amongst the ‘most at risk’ from Britain’s Database State, with three of the largest databases set up to support and protect children failing to achieve their aims;
  • Data sharing is a barrier to socially responsible activities. It is deterring teenagers from accessing health advice and undermining goodwill towards law enforcement;
  • Only 15% of major public sector databases are effective, proportionate and necessary;
  • We spend £16 billion a year on public sector IT and a further £105bn spending is planned for the next five years – but only 30% of public-sector IT projects succeed.

Take a look at the full report to see the findings.

H/T: Ian Brown via Boing Boing


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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