Police and NOTIFYDifferent police areas have systems for sharing information about children who come to their attention. Sometimes these are run in partnership with other agencies: for example the ‘Nipper’ database in York is run in conjunction with the ‘Safer York Partnership’ and records information about children at risk of harm, truants and those whose behaviour is described as 'unacceptable' - which includes playing ball-games in the street.
The Metropolitan Police operate a system called ‘MERLIN’ which was developed from their missing persons database. It now records details of any child who ‘comes to notice’ for any reason, ranging from child protection to bullying; being ‘present when premises are searched’; where it is suspected that a family member has mental health problems or in any circumstances where a police officer thinks that the family needs social services involvement. We are told that the data on MERLIN is available to all Metropolitan Police officers and to civilian staff on completion of training, and that other local agencies can obtain information from it if they have signed an information-sharing agreement with the MPS.
Just to round the ‘crime and justice’ section off, we should mention that where a child or young person is actually charged with a criminal offence, assessments are carried out by the YOT using a tool called ASSET, which has various add-ons for assessing drug use, vulnerability, suitability for bail etc. Information about young offenders is held on a YOIS or Careworks system.
There’s one other (local) system worth looking at: NOTIFY is a web-based system for sharing information across London Borough boundaries about people who are homeless. The legal basis for doing this is outlined here.
We’re going to leave a couple of days now before starting on the whole ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda: the Children’s Index, the Common Assessment Framework, ‘joined-up’ services and the Integrated Children’s System. That will give you a chance to look up links so far. In particular look at ‘Connexions’ again, because it has close parallels with the developments now under way.
It would also be a good idea to download and read the green paper ‘Every Child Matters’ if you’re not already familiar with it.