See also: • Education or Indoctrination • Conspiracy Theory Coincidences • Uncle Adolf Syndrome • Children Services Abuse
Integrated Children's System. (ICS)
18 May 2011
The Integrated Children's System (ICS) is a piece of information technology (IT) developed to assist in the social welfare of children in the UK.  The system was initiated in the year 2000 after the 'Lost in Care'  scandal arising from an inquiry into abuse of children in care in Gwynedd and Clwyd between 1974 and 1990.  It is a case management system (CMS) and essentially coordinates and disseminates case information to all relevant parties.  It was introduced to the UK in 2004 and by 2008 every local authority in Britain had access to the ICS.

Like all data systems which keep personal records the integrity of the system is paramount.  The system allows the communication of personal data between departments in the Social Services and Children Services as well as other agencies such as the Ofsted, CAFFCAS, the NHS and the police.

The ICS has had a disastrous history and seems to be another bureaucratic blunder serving quangos and software entrepreneurs without providing much of real value to the public who pay for it.  A government report deemed the system "not fit for purpose" in 2008 and since the Munro Review in 2010 there have been more moves to wind the system down and reduce its mandatory nature.

Amongst the obvious problems with such system like the security risks and the cost in time and money there are more serious threats to the well being of children and the wider community.  There seems to be an assumption, even a belief, that the more data you collect the more successful you will be.  If data were what it is conveniently assumed to be that might be true.  It is assumed that data is fact.  But unfortunately data needs interpreting.  When the data is entered there is an interpretation of the facts which produce the data and when it is read out it is interpreted to mean something.  It needs no explanation here to elucidate the point.  But there are yet more insidious consequences.  There is an emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology in the world of psychology.  In essence the bouncing around of neural impulses in your brain produces consequential changes (obvious really) and being social animals the external consequences affect other humans where it causes more bouncing around in their neural network.  This is only interesting science of the real physical world with respect to the stuff of emotions which are too often dismissed as ethereal.  But the point being that when prejudice exists in the interpreter of facts and they produce "data" as a consequence the prejudice is now floating around the system.  It becomes too easy for another individual to combine their prejudice with the data when they interpret it and for that to affect their chosen actions.  Before you know it you have real people being seriously affected by the misinterpreted world held in the computer system.

I'll go no further at this stage but the summary warning is that complex integrated systems have the potential to be very "real" threats to people's well being.

Related links:
Computing: Learning from the ICS Failure
When policy o’erleaps itself: The ‘tragic tale’ of the Integrated Children’s System
Government report reveals ICS was not fit for purpose
The British Journal of Social Work: Technical Report: Learning from the ICS Failure
More About Interpersonal Neurobiology

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