By Eileen Fairweather
Has your child been CAFed? How the Government plans to record intimate information on every child in Britain
When police raided Tory MP Damian Green’s home, they ‘sheepishly’ asked whether children were present before ransacking it. His wife assumed they were being polite. But, under sinister new guidelines, officers must assess all children they encounter – including while ‘searching premises’ – for a police database called MERLIN.
This, in turn, feeds into a giant new Whitehall database on Britain’s children, Contact Point, which goes live nationally in January.
civil liberties campaigners say we must resist it now, before it is too late.
Since April 1, hundreds of thousands of State employees, from police to teachers, youth and nursery workers, social workers and sports coaches, have been entitled to interrogate children aged up to 19, using the ‘Common Assessment Framework’ (CAF), a creepy, eight-page, 60-section questionnaire.
CAF includes eyewateringly intimate questions about children’s sexual behaviour, their family’s structure, culture and religion, their views on ‘discrimination’, their friends, secret fears, feelings and family income, plus ‘any serious difficulties in their parents’ relationship’.
How has such a terrifying intrusion into private life crept, almost unnoticed, under the radar? [….] cleverly packaged CAF as an aid to ‘child protection’ and delivering better services as part of its Every Child Matters project (ECM).
it is about control, not care, and spying, not safety.
ECM claims that nearly half of Britain’s 11 million children have ‘additional needs’, so must continuously be assessed for the giant database at the Government’s Department for Schools and Families.
CAF questionnaires will be kept until they are 19, or for 75 years if they have been in care, and can be accessed electronically by hundreds of thousands of staff in other agencies.
Contact Point will also store information from databases kept by the NHS, GPs, schools, the Child Benefit Agency and the National Pupil Register.
Youngsters from the age of 12 are deemed mature enough to agree to being CAF-ed – whatever their parents’ objections. But campaigners stress that families should teach their children to say No: submitting to CAF is, currently at least, voluntary. The Government claims that the database will identify children at risk of poverty, abuse or future criminality.
this assault on treasured British notions of privacy and propriety was devised by the woman responsible for Britain’s most notorious social-work scandal. ECM was launched in September 2003 by Margaret Hodge, Tony Blair’s shocking choice as Britain’s first Children’s Minister.
Her main ‘qualification’ was being his pal and running Islington Council when its 12 children’s homes were awash with paedophiles and sympathisers of the ‘Left-wing’ Paedophile Information Exchange. This campaigned for sex to be legalised with children from the age of four.
One can only wonder how many Pervy Petes within childcare today will relish being actively invited to ask children about their sexual behaviour (CAF seemingly views this as normal), the ‘sleeping arrangements’ at home and how they feel about ‘changes to their body’.
I have been exposing child-abuse scandals for nearly 20 years and believe that this new Stalinist bureaucracy will not save a single child. Many of the paedophiles I exposed in Hodge’s homes ‘groomed’ children for eventual abuse through precisely such questions.
just as with the Government’s fearless war on pensioner recycling ‘louts’, they will instead target and terrorise ordinary, decent families.
Why? One reason is simply to control people. [….] the family poses the greatest potential opposition to the strong State.
The Government’s decreed desirable ‘outcomes’ for children are so frighteningly broad that many decent parents could find themselves labelled failures or abusers.
Everyone involved with children – including volunteers, and police on raids – is now expected to use the Government’s ‘Pre-Assessment Checklist’, to see if they are achieving these five ‘outcomes’ – being healthy, staying safe, enjoying life, making a ‘positive contribution’ and achieving ‘economic well-being’.
Even parents working desperately hard to feed their children and keep them safe could be classified as failing them. The questionnaire asks if children’s parents are ‘over-protective’, and whether work leaves them ‘too tired to pay attention to your needs’. CAF practitioners are also taught specifically to ask if parents ‘promote a healthy lifestyle’ and oppose ‘bullying and discrimination’.
An increasingly rigid State already rejects potentially loving foster and adoptive carers who smoke or have politically ‘incorrect’ views because they are Christian.
How long until natural parents are also found guilty of thought crime?
Might Damian Green have been considered guilty of encouraging discrimination, through challenging the Government on immigration?
The worst thing is that Every Child Matters has made real protection work harder – the highly effective Child Protection Register was abolished in April and social workers are now drowning in paperwork about entirely innocent families.
Terri Dowty, director of Action on Rights for Children, ‘parents should teach their children that if they are asked at school to fill in these forms to say that they want first to go home and discuss it.’
Dowty fears that the new State questionnaire is ‘designed to teach children to accept being interrogated and classified from the earliest age, by anyone and everyone. It is truly frightening’. No one, supposedly, can be forced to fill in a CAF. But practitioners are advised to report the family to the local safeguarding children team ‘if a common assessment is refused and you are concerned’. They may also store the CAF centrally even when permission is refused.
Campaigners [….] desperately need benefactors and lawyers prepared to fund test cases and support innocent families under pressure.
Tragically, Britain, the cradle of parliamentary democracy, is becoming notorious worldwide for snooping on its citizens. Professor Nigel Parton, NSPCC Professor of Childhood Studies at Huddersfield University, warned a recent international conference in Finland that the Every Child Matters agenda means what we are witnessing is the emergence of the ‘preventive-surveillance state’, with ‘major implications for the civil liberties and human rights of the citizen, particularly for children and parents’.
Once, people who warned of a growing police state seemed paranoid. The Damian Green raid was a wake-up call. Let us now protect our children, our and our country’s future, with all our might.