#1 Re-starting the cycleEveryone wants to know about the most recent database developments - especially the planned Children’s Index - but that’s like making a cake by starting with the icing. To appreciate what the Index is about, it’s necessary to understand the systems that already exist and something of the law/policies behind them.
Start here, and simply go through the postings in number order.
What we’re giving you is a factual outline of the children’s databases and information-sharing projects, information about the processes used to identify a particular child as a ‘target’ and to assess him/her, and also a bit about the law and policy involved. To cater to all tastes, we’re starting from an assumption of little knowledge but hope you feel reasonably confident to enter the debate on children’s databases by the end of it. There are plenty of links to help you find out more.
Time is short because the DfES intends to hold a public consultation on the Children’s Index soon. We want to make sure the information in this blog spreads as widely as possible so that everyone can contribute to that consultation and lobby their MPs. So, please pass this URL on to everyone you know, and link to us if you have a website or blog.
One general point to aid understanding: over the last few years there has been an increasing move towards using primary legislation (aka ‘statute’ or ‘Acts’/’Bills’) as a window through which secondary legislation (aka ‘regulations’ or ‘statutory instruments’) can be made. The telltale phrase in a statute is something like: ‘the Secretary of State may by regulations prescribe…’ That phrase is a ‘hook’ upon which the actual powers can later be hung.
The advantage to a government of this approach is that they are equipped with a general power to do something, and don’t normally then have to subject the details to full parliamentary scrutiny and debate. Thus the powers that a government has can be changed relatively easily, so long as they don’t exceed what is allowed by statute, and the potential powers available to a government may be far greater than those currently being exercised.
‘Guidance’ is exactly what it says. It can be changed easily and is not scrutinised by parliament. Its force depends on whether the statute to which it applies says that a person or body ‘must’ or ‘may’ have regard to it - or doesn’t mention any guidance at all.