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Schoolgirl Death Sparks Cyber Security Calls

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7:01am 7th January 2012

A coroner is going write to the government over the case of a bullied Cornish schoolgirl who jumped to her death from a bridge.

An inquest has ruled Simone Grice from Illogan took her own life.

The coroner was told the 15 year old had become involved with two older men she met online.

Her computer was supplied as part of an e-learning programme, but it was not set up to block social networking sites like Facebook.

Since Simone's death officials have brought in so-called "cyber-nanny" software.

Dr Emma Carlyon wants ministers to do the same across the UK.


Cornwall Council released this statement:

Cornwall Council would like to extend its condolences to the young person’s parents, siblings and extended family for their loss.  Professionals who had worked with the young person expressed their shock following her death and their sympathy to her family.

Following the young person’s death in 2009, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Safeguarding Children Board carried out a serious case review to identify any lessons to be learned by the agencies.  Staff from a number of Council services were involved with the young person and her family and all these services participated fully within the serious case review process.

The review identified the need for agencies and professionals to share information and agree access to services.  It also highlighted the need for professionals to follow agreed procedures where there are disagreements.  The review was completed by the end of 2009 and the learning shared with family members and agencies across Cornwall.

One of the issues raised in the inquest related to the young person’s use of a computer.  The computer was supplied, maintained and monitored by Notschool.net, a Government supported national programme which provides an online learning community for young people aged 14-17 who have either been outside or unable to engage in traditional education provision.  Children are referred to Notschool.net from a range of organisations, including local councils, Pupil Referral Units, Schools, Connexions, Youth Offending Teams, CAMHS.

Cornwall Council commissions places for up to 30 young people from Plymouth Notschool.net.  All computer equipment is supplied to the young people by Notschool.net as part of this service.   Notschool.net is responsible for monitoring the use of the computer and the progress being made by the pupils.  This is done through a combination of remote monitoring of the use of the computer by Notschool.net staff and regular contact with Notschool.net mentors who work with individual young people.  The Council’s Head of Additional Educational Provision then meets fortnightly with the Head of Plymouth Notschool.net to discuss the progress of all the young people on the programme.  

Young people are required to take part in a detailed induction programme led by Notschool.net before the computer equipment is supplied.  Parents and carers are also required to sign an agreement setting out their responsibility to monitor the use of the equipment and acknowledging the monitoring of its use by Notschool.net.  Part of this process includes an explanation of the filtering software which is available.  Parents can request that this is provided either at this stage or at a later date if they have concerns over usage.

Specialist cyber nanny software was introduced on the computer equipment supplied to young people in Cornwall by Plymouth Notschool.net in the summer of 2009 at the request of the Council to bring it into line with the authority’s safeguarding policies.

The Council has undergone a number of significant changes since 2009.  The authority is committed to ensuring that safeguarding principles are understood and embedded across all agencies in Cornwall and has been working with partners to improve and strengthen safeguarding practice.

Within the Council’s Children’s Services there have been significant improvements in both practice and service delivery, including the establishment of the single referral unit which provides consistency and equity to the way that referrals into social work are managed.  Plans are in place for staff from the police and health trusts to join the single referral unit to support a multi-agency integrated response and accountability for safeguarding and child protection concerns.

The results of an unannounced inspection into the Council’s safeguarding arrangements are expected to be published by Ofsted on Tuesday, 10 January.

7:01am 7th January 2012

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