Torbay’s e-safety project Virtually S@fe has scooped two accolades at this year’s ‘MJ Awards 2015’.

On Thursday 18 June 2015 two of Torbay’s Virtually S@fe Team visited London for the annual Municipal Journal (MJ) awards ceremony. They were accompanied by representatives from Torbay Council’s multi-agency housing team who were also shortlisted for an award for their efforts to tackle Rogue Landlords in Torbay.

Each year the MJ Awards recognise outstanding achievements from local authorities across the UK and Virtually S@fe achieved awards in both the ‘Behaviour Change’ and ‘Delivering Better Outcomes’ categories.

Virtually , which is led by Devon and Cornwall Police, Torbay Council and Hele’s Angels aims to keep children safer online.

Superintendent Glen Mayhew, Policing Commander for South Devon said: “Virtually S@fe started as an extremely small partnership project in Torbay to help parents and carers navigate what can often seem like a daunting online environment and equip them with skills to help keep their children safer online. Since then the project has grown to help educate over 5000 children in Torbay and this year was chosen by Devon and Cornwall Police at a strategic level to be made available across the entire Force area.

"We are honoured that our work has been recognised at a national level by the MJ and I am delighted that our team came home to Torbay with two awards.”

Last year the project worked with Torquay Academy to create a short film for parents on the tricky subject of sexting which can be found at www.torbayvirtuallysafe.co.uk/parents/sexting.

Steve Margetts Principal at Torquay Academy said: “We are delighted to take part in this outstanding initiative. The school is always very pro-active in our approach to keeping our students safe in all-manner of situations. The work we do to help keep our students safe on-line is key to this part of their education.”

Virtually S@fe involves specially trained officers from the police and staff from the council delivering interactive presentations to children. Each presentation aims to raise awareness of risks and consequences of online behaviours, equip children with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their online behaviour and highlight how and where to find help if they need it.

Torbay Council's Executive Lead for Community Safety, Councillor Robert Excell, said “Virtually S@fe is a small project making a big difference because it brings together the skills, expertise and experience of the police, the local authority and also the community thanks to Hele’s Angels.

"This project is a great example of a tireless team effort and I congratulate all those involved. Its pleasing to see that Torbay partners are working together to achieve national recognition for the work which they do, and that local families are benefiting from this excellent project.”

To date the project has been funded by the Torbay Safeguarding Children Board and Tony Hogg, the Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Police and Crime Commissioner, although it has no guaranteed year on year funding.

Marilyn Martin from Hele’s Angels said: “We support Virtually S@fe as we believe that keeping children safer online is everybody’s responsibility. For any parent or carer who feels that they can’t talk with their child about their online activity because they don’t know enough about technology, please check out our website for advice. You really don’t need to be an expert in technology to have the conversation, you just need to be a parent.”

Find Virtually S@fe online at www.torbayvirtuallysafe.co.uk and on Twitter @BeVirtuallySafe.



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