£224 million UK child database closes today

The UK's ruling coalition continued its programme of cuts in government IT spending with the closure today of a £224m database containing details of all 11 million children in England.

The ContactPoint database - which holds the names, addresses and ages of all under-18s, together with details of parents, schools and doctors - will be switched off at noon today.

The system was accessible to hundred of thousands of public sector officials, including social workers, teachers and police officers.

The database went live last year, after being commissioned in the wake of the Victoria Climbie child abuse scandal.

Victoria Climbie died in 2000, a victim of child abuse. A report into her death highlighted inadequacies in the way information was shared between different agencies.

The project has been earmarked for closure ever since the general election, with the new coalition government expressing concerns over the system's cost and potential security risks.

ContactPoint's scrapping was formally announced in a written statement to parliament by children's minister Tim Loughton on 22 July.

Announcing today's closure, a statement on the Department for Children, Schools and Families' website reads: "Ministers do not believe that a database, which holds details of all children in England and which is accessible to hundreds of thousands of people, is the right way to help vulnerable children."

The statement explained that the government plans to replace ContactPoint with "a national signposting approach, which would focus on helping a strictly limited group of practitioners to find out whether a colleague elsewhere is working, or has previously worked, with the same vulnerable child."