#7 Police databasesDifferent 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.
Before we move on to the whole ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda - the Children’s Index, the Common Assessment Framework, ‘joined-up’ services and the Integrated Children’s System - we recommend that you download and read the green paper ‘Every Child Matters’ This sets out the thinking behind the planned new system.