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CHILD PROTECTION POLICY EMBRACES INTERNET CHATROOMS

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Blaenau Gwent CBC's child protection policy is being extended to libraries to include a ban on the use of internet ...
Blaenau Gwent CBC's child protection policy is being extended to libraries to include a ban on the use of internet chatrooms via the free internet service.

Libraries throughout the borough boast over 50 computer workstations all with free internet access provided through by the Welsh Assembly Government's People's Network initiative.

The council's child protection policy came into force on 1st January 2003 to protect children and vulnerable people from any type of abuse and every club or organisation that wishes to use any council sport or recreation facility must prove they have a child protection policy and a nominated child protection officer.

This policy is now embracing the library service to protect users, both children and adults, from the potential threats that exist in using internet chat rooms.

The filtering software will be instructed to block access to internet chat room sites through all the library computers. This should make it difficult for users to be able to reach chat rooms intentionally or unintentionally.

All library computer users must sign an acceptable user policy to ensure they understand and agree to the terms of use. Young people aged 16 and under have to bring their parent or guardian into the library to sign the Acceptable user policy in the presence of the librarian, in order to use the computers. A new clause has been written into the Acceptable User Policy stating that access to chat rooms is prohibited as part of the child protection policy and that filtering software is in place to deny access.

Nigel Daniels, executive member for leisure services, said: 'Our child protection policy has been held as an exemplar policy by the Sports Council for Wales, Gwent Police and other local authorities and we are extending it to cover internet chat rooms to protect the users of our library computers as we protect the users of our sports facilities.

'Introducing The People's Network to Blaenau Gwent Libraries was one our major successe s in recent years in terms of public library development. It has opened up many new opportunities for library users to gain access to world wide information, improved communications via email and to learn and acquire new computer skills.

'But unfortunately we have to acknowledge there is also a downside to its capabilities that we are not in a position to control. So in order to protect all our users we are denying access to sites such as internet chat rooms.'

Users will be reminded of Blaenau Gwent CBC's Safe Surfing Tips to ensure their continued enjoyment of this free internet service.

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