Details of every child in the country are contained in a controversial government database which has been set up in a bid to improve the co-ordination of services for children.
The £224m ContactPoint system had been hit by a series of delays and fears over security, but has at last become operational.
It was set up following the death of Victoria Climbie, who was abused by her great aunt and her boyfriend, and allows childcare professionals to access information on an estimated 11 million youngsters in England.
Some 800 practitioners including healthcare professionals, social workers and police will initially be trained on how to use the database.
Taking part in the pilot of the scheme are 17 local authorities in the north west, along with the charities Barnardo's and KIDS.
Fears over unauthorised access to data have resulted in the identities and information on more than 51,000 "vulnerable" children being shielded, the government said.
Information held in the database includes name, address, gender and date of birth for children up until their 18th birthday, and their contact details for parents or carers.
Also held are details for the child's school, GP and other healthcare services such as social workers.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
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"Given recent leakages of supposedly secure information this fills me with horror. Like Lyn, I think we need a tool to track and safeguard children, but as Trace says, many vulnerable families are nomadic so how up-to-date will this info be? I am also incensed that my children are on this as it has potential to make them more, not less, vulnerable to the unscrupulous!" - Roni, Scotland
"I don't think this will have great benefits. I think there is the concern about information being leaked, and just another database which will require security. The money used to set up a system like this would be better spent on paying for more workers on the frontline of children's services, and for training for those already there. There is also the trouble that the system would be required to be constantly updated as many of theese vulnerable families literally get up and go and can lead quite a nomadic lifestyle trying to dodge the authorities, or trying just to keep a roof over their heads. Personally, I dont feel this is the answer." - Trace, Scotland
"A long-awaited additional tool for the safeguarding and tracking of children. I hope the pilot works well as we need a robust tool in which to place the children's records." - Lyn Hunter, Manchester
"What concerns me greatly is the fact that those who are privileged, ie, MPs and celebrities, can have a greater level of security, preventing a substantial amount of this information from being accessible. Are my children not just as precious? I do not remember being asked if I wished my children's details to be publicised and I do not feel that this database is secure; if it was, why have differing levels of access? It speaks volumes of the police state that we now live in. I am not averse to the protection of children, just don't put mine at risk to do it! Guess what, the pilot is in the northwest, surprise surprise, and guess whose children are included in that - mine!" - Angela, Cumbria
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