Online child protection

A new hi-tech system is being rolled out in Scotland that will allow child protection agencies and the police to share information quicker and more securely.

Mar 19, 2009
By Paul Jacques

A new hi-tech system is being rolled out in Scotland that will allow child protection agencies and the police to share information quicker and more securely.

A system allowing child protection agencies across Scotland to share information quicker and to better ensure safeguards are in place for those at risk is to be developed over the coming year by the Scottish Government.
The £1.5 million Vulnerable Person’s System (VPS) will help agencies react faster to changes in a child’s circumstances in the future to keep them safe from neglect and abuse.
The VPS – which will also cover vulnerable adults – will initially allow police forces to share secure, accurate and up-to-date information electronically but will be open to other agencies in due course.
Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson, chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) Information Management Project, said: “Recognising the needs of vulnerable persons and the delivery of the very best service to them is one of ACPOS’ top priorities. We welcome this joint initiative with the Scottish Government to provide the means to share information across the Scottish police service.
“Recent events surrounding domestic and child abuse have continued to focus our attention on the sharing of information and we do recognise the need to ensure that this information is kept securely. The VPS will be built to the highest standards of information security and any information shared will be on a need to know basis and on a case-by-case basis. Understanding a vulnerable person’s needs and identification of the escalating risk gives us opportunities to make the earliest intervention in partnership with our colleagues in social services, education and health.”
The VPS – designed on the existing ViSOR (Violent and Sex Offender Register) system – will go live for police forces throughout 2010-11.
It will reduce the need for unnecessary paperwork, speed up information sharing and enable police officers attending incidents to quickly assess if anyone involved is listed as being vulnerable, leading to more effective decision making.
From 2011, the VPS will be incorporated into eCare – the Scottish Government’s multi-agency, electronic information sharing framework which covers consent, standards, security, procurement, organisational development and technical issues relating to the electronic sharing of personal data. At that point, the VPS will enable the police and other bodies, such as social work and health, to bring together key information from various agencies’ systems.
The Scottish Government has committed £1 million to develop the VPS, with ACPOS contributing £500,000. It will be developed by ACPOS with the Scottish Police Services Authority providing technical expertise alongside experienced consultants.
Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who announced funding for the VPS at a multi-agency child protection hub in Edinburgh last week, said: “Child protection is everybody’s business and we all have a duty to look out for young people and speak up if we have concerns about their welfare.
“The sickening death of little Brandon Muir* has been a terrible reminder to us all why safeguards for Scotland’s children are so important. His killer moved into the family home only weeks before, showing how quickly circumstances can change and why it’s vital agencies get the most up-to-date information possible.
“Scotland already has the most robust child protection inspection system in the UK but it is imperative that we continue to ensure quick, effective support is put in place for vulnerable people. That means agencies working together and enabling information sharing – centred on the child or vulnerable person – is at the heart of that.
“Ensuring the latest intelligence is available to professionals quickly and securely puts them in the best position to get support to those who need it, when they need it.
“The new VPS will do just that and help agencies track what is happening in a child or vulnerabl

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