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Children: Internet

Volume 480: debated on Friday 17 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) when he expects the UK Council for Child Internet Safety to develop advice on child internet safety accessible to parents and children via the DirectGov information network, as recommended in the Byron Review; (227193)

(2) what plans he has to develop a public information and awareness campaign on child internet safety;

(3) by what date he expects the UK Council for Child Internet Safety to have agreed a kitemarking system for parental control computer software;

(4) what progress has been made in appointing an advisory group to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety; and if he will make a statement.

The June 2008 Byron Review Action Plan commits the Government to working with Council partners to develop an authoritative ‘one stop shop’ website on child internet safety by spring 2009. Initial development has already begun. The ‘one stop shop’ must be a trusted and central portal for high quality internet safety information, with signposts to the wide range of support and services provided by Council members. This will be developed in close consultation with the Council.

The June 2008 Byron Review Action Plan commits the Government to:

include e-safety in its £9 million child safety awareness campaign over the next three years;

ensure that Parent Know How funded help lines are able to signpost parents concerned about e-safety to sources of further information; and

work with CEOP and other Council members to launch an e-safety week in 2009.

The Government will work with Council members to ensure that this activity is linked with campaigns that are already planned or under way, by Government and stakeholders.

The Home Office and Ofcom have been working with the British Standards Institute (BSI) to develop a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for assessing the quality of filtering software for computers. This has already been delivered, and discussions are under way with major industry players about the time scale for submitting software for testing.

There are no plans to establish an advisory group to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. As recommended in Dr. Byron’s report, on 29 September the Government announced the appointment of senior representatives from across industry, the third sector, law enforcement and the devolved administrations to the UK Council’s Executive Board.

The Board will play a crucial role in the governance and strategic direction of all Council activity. It will provide expert guidance, inject momentum into the work of the Council and provide the necessary level of challenge and scrutiny to the working groups. The Board will be the key driving force behind the development and implementation of the Child Internet Safety Strategy in spring 2009.

Further information on Board membership can be found at:

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2008_0215

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how much the Government spent on child internet safety campaigns in each of the last three years; and how much he expects to be spent in 2008-09; (227195)

(2) what the cost of establishing the UK Council for Child Internet Safety has been; how much he expects it to cost in 2008-09; and how much of the funding will come from (a) industry, (b) his Department, (c) the Home Office and (d) the Department for Culture, Media and Sport;

(3) how many full-time equivalent employees work in the secretariat of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety; and from which Government departments secretariat staff are drawn;

(4) if he will make it his policy to place in the Library copies of the minutes from each of the meetings held by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

It is not possible to provide an accurate breakdown for each of the last three years as the majority of Government spending is provided as part of wider funding to schools for the provision of technology. This has been supported by comprehensive guidance to all schools on the importance of internet safety.

Specific initiatives to raise public awareness of internet safety include developing a dedicated training module for UK Online Centres and an investment of £1 million in the Know It All range of CDs for parents to promote internet safety in the home. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) have spent £454,000 from 2006-08 on its ThinkUKnow internet safety education programme.

Government have dedicated £9 million over 2008-11 to a safety awareness campaign for children that includes internet safety.

There are various costs involved in establishing the UK Council, including launch costs and hosting the first meeting of the Executive Board. To date the Government have spent approximately £25,000 on these activities. This does not include the cost of officials working within the secretariat.

Moving forward, delivery of Dr. Byron’s recommendations will largely rely on building digital safety into planned activities and services that are already funded, such as £9 million on a safety awareness campaign for children that will include internet safety. We recognise that there may be additional costs associated with delivering some of Dr. Byron’s recommendations, and we will consider how these can be funded as they are identified.

The Government are in the process of establishing the “properly resourced” secretariat recommended by Dr. Byron to support the work of the council. There are currently three full-time equivalent officials in place with plans to expand to five officials shortly. We are also in discussions with partner agencies on additional part time secondments to support the council and welcome their support.

The level of staffing will be reviewed in the coming months as the work of the council is further defined.

The Government want to be open about the work of the council and there are a number of ways to disseminate information about its work. We will consult with council members and consider the best way for everyone, including parents, to be kept informed about progress on improving online safety for children.