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Data on childrens residential homes hindering police?

Michael Gove, Education Secretary, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said the rules were hindering the police and helping abusers stating that absurd" secrecy rules applying to children in care homes may have helped paedophiles target them. Mr Gove described a situation where it was very difficult to gather basic information about care homes and the children in them. He said he believed this could have hindered the police and helped individuals and groups seeking to harm children. The regulator Ofsted was not allowed to pass information to the police because of data protection rules and what Mr Gove called other "bewildering regulations".

The Information Commissioner's office, however, said no law was a barrier to protecting vulnerable children.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office responded to Mr Gove's comments, saying: "Ensuring that vulnerable young people are properly protected in care homes is essential. There is nothing in data protection legislation that is a barrier to this happening.

"This law covers information about people, so it has no bearing on the disclosure of non-personal information like the location of care homes.

"The Information Commissioner published a Data Sharing Code of Practice in May 2012 which helps ensure that more routine information sharing takes place where necessary, and any myths around data protection preventing proper sharing are dispelled.

"The Commissioner's advice has not been sought on any perceived difficulties about sharing care home information, so we are writing to both Michael Gove and Sir Michael Wilshaw at Ofsted today to clarify the concerns and set straight any misunderstandings."

Mr Gove also said it was "indefensible" that almost half of children in homes were placed outside their local authority area, and more than a third over 20 miles away.

"So, too, is the fact that more than half of children's homes are in areas with above-average crime levels," he added.

Fri 13th Sept 2013

More information on http://www.bbc.co.uk/