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Government wants file on every child in England

Ananova

The Government says it wants to create a file on every child in England, including information on whether family members have a history of drug abuse or domestic violence.

The Children's Green Paper published earlier this month said every local authority should set up a database of basic details about children living in the area to ensure better protection of those who were at risk of abuse.

While it stopped short of saying information on family members should be included on the list of "warning signs", both children's minister Margaret Hodge and Education Secretary Charles Clarke made clear they believed that it should.

The need to protect children from abuse "absolutely" took precedence over the civil liberties of adults who might harm them, Mr Clarke declared.

The Green Paper was partly a response to the horrific murder of Victoria Climbie by the eight-year-old's aunt and boyfriend, and the recommendations by the inquiry into her death headed by Lord Laming.

The pair had been able to torture Victoria to death, Lord Laming concluded, because none of the agencies dealing with her case took overall responsibility for ensuring it was properly handled.

The Government vowed to force social workers, police, teachers, doctors and everyone else involved in child welfare to work more closely together and share information on vulnerable youngsters.

If more than one warning was posted on their file, then a named individual should be made responsible and accountable for their case, the Green Paper said.

Mr Clarke and Mrs Hodge in London said better information-sharing was the key to making the new system work.

The Green Paper said all of England's 150 LEAs should create an 'information hub' with a profile of every child in the area including their name, address and date of birth, which school they attended and their GP.

It should also have a 'flag' showing whether they were 'known to' the police, social services and other agencies such as education welfare officers.

The Green Paper said there was a 'strong case' for the agencies to flag up 'early warnings', even if nothing had happened so far to make people believe the child concerned was being harmed.

But it added there was a "balance to be struck" between sharing information that could safeguard children and protecting people's privacy.

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