A Devon-based organisation tasked with keeping children safe online has been thrown a lifeline after a local MEP’s work to save its funding.
South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has succeeded in getting the European Parliament’s backing for his efforts to make sure that EU-funded Safer Internet Centres across the EU are given priority in the European Union’s next spending period.
The UK’s Safer Internet Centre, which is run by charities Childnet, the South West Learning Grid and the Internet Watch Foundation and is based in Exeter, plays a vital role in managing illegal online content such as child pornography, provides a helpline for victims of online bullying and raises awareness in primary and secondary schools.
The EU’s funding stream for Safer Internet Centres across the EU – the digital Connecting Europe Facility – has been cut considerably, which puts the network’s funding at risk. Liberal Democrat Euro-MPs are fighting to make sure they are given priority within the smaller budget. The Exeter-based centre has received £1.4 million during the current 2007-2013 funding period.
Commenting on the success, Sir Graham Watson MEP said: ”This is one step along a long road to make sure that Childnet, the South West Learning Grid and the Internet Watch Foundation can continue their crucial work in tackling online child abuse. It would be disastrous if everything just ground to a halt next year due to lack of funds, putting the safety of children online at risk.
“The UK Safer Internet Centre do sterling work, ending funding could put remove valuable experitse and experience, putting local jobs at risk.
“Reduced budgets make it all the more important that we target our spending at what is truly important – and nothing is more so than our children’s safety on the net.
“This is also an example of how savings can be made by pooling services and resources at EU level, while still giving the operational control to the centres with the national know-how in each European country.
“Just last month David Cameron and Secretary of State Maria Miller were trumpeting the UK Safer Internet Centre’s work. They now need to make sure that commitment translates into money in Brussels. I call on them to back my European Parliament amendment to make sure it and other centres across the EU are prioritised in the next EU budget.”
(from a press release)