Senior South West MEP Sir Graham Watson
has discovered that the major body tasked with tackling child pornography and indecent images on the web by Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller just last week is funded by an EU programme that is due to have its budget slashed.
The UK's Safer Internet Centre
, based in Exeter, Devon, has received £1.4 million pounds of EU funding under the safer internet programme, but this could run out by next year according to figures from the European Commission. The digital networks budget for the EU's Connecting Europe Facility has been reduced from €9 billion to €1 billion, but the number of projects in need of funding remains the same.
Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham has now launched a campaign - and tabled amendments in the European Parliament - to give the Internet Watch Foundation and related organisations the best possible chance of maintaining their funding.
"The shameful fact is that unless action is taken, the outlook is bleak for the organisations tasked just last week with tackling online child pornography, including the UK’s hotline for reporting online child abuse,
” said Sir Graham.
"This is a blow to the Tories' claim to be tough on crime, and shows a desperate lack of awareness about where the money for some of these services comes from.
"I am now in contact with the UK Safer Internet Centre to see what can be done to safeguard their funding and ensure that their vital work can continue. However, we face a difficult battle in the months to come. Maria Miller says she is personally committed to tackling child pornography. I hope she now realises this commitment has to extend to negotiations in Brussels.
The Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, David Wright, said: "The UK Safer Internet Centre strongly supports the amendment tabled by Sir Graham Watson to include the Safer Internet Centre programme as a priority for funding and we hope the Government will fight to secure our future.
(from press release)
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