Sunday, August 06, 2006

#6 RYOGENS

RYOGENS was developed as one project in a portfolio of e-government national projects. The name is an acronym for Reducing Youth Offending Generic National Solution, although this full title is no longer mentioned on their website, and it is being positioned as having wider use in the whole children’s agenda.

RYOGENS is a web-based predictive and information-sharing system that local authorities can buy into, offering a checklist of concerns (we strongly recommend you read these) to be used in order to reach a decision that a child is ‘at risk’ of offending. [NB update 29.11.06 the original Ryogens page seems to have been removed recently. We have replaced it with the archive version]

Until very recently, the website also provided a list of legal reasons that practitioners could use to override refusal of consent to share information; however, this seems to have disappeared from the site, and the most recently archived list can be seen here. Since the migration of the project to the e-government site last year, there do not appear to be any later archived versions.

The local authority using the RYOGENS system decides how many ‘concerns’ from the checklist should be entered on the system before an alert is triggered. At this point an assessment is made and the child is referred to relevant services.

A child of any age can be recorded on the RYOGENS system. According to an evaluation the youngest was 9 months old, although the report acknowledges that in this case the power ‘appears to have been used incorrectly’.

On the RYOGENS website, a number of case studies are given, where refusal to consent to information-sharing has been overridden by the discretionary power to ‘promote social inclusion’ contained in the Local Government Act 2000 – mentioned yesterday. It would be very helpful to have the views of any lawyers on this use of s2 of the Act, and on the accompanying guidance on s2 from the ODPM.

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