Online firm turns virtual world into real success by keeping kids safe

More than 100 schools sign up to pioneering eCadet scheme.

An internet security firm is enjoying real business success after creating a pioneering scheme to keep children safe online.

Flintshire-based eTreble9 was set up by ex-policeman Henry Platten who now patrols the virtual world from the company’s offices in Hawarden.

Henry and his wife and fellow director, Danielle, launched the ground-breaking eCadet programme earlier this year.

The idea is that schools have at least two pupils trained as eCadets who will be able to advise fellow students how to protect themselves when browsing the internet, using social media on smart phones and tablets, or playing online games.

The scheme was unveiled in a blaze of publicity in Flintshire earlier this year.

Since then more than 100 schools across Wales have signed up – among them are schools in Flintshire, Wrexham, Denbighshire, Conwy, Caerphilly and Swansea.

The cutting-edge social media company was established by the husband and wife team in 2012.

Danielle has a background in HR and employment law, having previously worked for multinational companies like the HSBC bank.

She says eTreble9 has already helped to meet the increasing demand for people to protect their organisation online.

The company has won a number of awards, including Business of the Year at the Free2Network Awards in 2012 where Henry was also named Businessman of the Year. The same year the firm was also a finalist in the Achievement Wales Business Awards and the Cheshire High Sheriff’s Awards.

Henry said: “We’ve been helping a wide range of North Wales and North West business with their social media problems.

“These have included people setting up fake accounts and pretending to be business owners (called cyber-squatting), through to a hotel receiving a lot of malicious negative comments.

“We’ve successfully resolved 100 per cent of the matters clients have asked for our help with.”

According to Danielle, the idea for the eCadet programme was a natural addition to the range of services they offer and is already attracting interest from across the UK and beyond.

She added: “We always knew it was a good idea and the way it has taken off has demonstrated there is real potential for growth. The level of interest in the eCadet programme is very exciting.”

The scheme is the first of its kind in the UK and has earned praise from Clwyd South AM Ken Skates, who is also the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology.

After seeing the project in action at Ysgol Acrefair, he said: “The eCadets are absolutely fantastic. There’s no better way no teaching young people how to be safe on the internet and they are doing a wonderful job.

Ken Skates AM visits Acrefair school to see eCadets in action with the pupils.

“The eCadets here at Acrefair are incredibly enthusiastic, and very knowledgeable as well. They’ve been able to teach me a few things about e safety.

“The internet is here to stay. There are dangers but there is enormous potential in the internet, so it’s important that the first thing that young people do is recognise the dangers and the pitfalls but then embrace the opportunities that are bound to follow.”

Henry, a former police sergeant, said: “The response following the launch has been absolutely fantastic. It’s really spreading across the whole of Wales and into England. It’s really exploded.

“It’s shown the need which we always felt was out there and we’re delighted by the positive impact it’s making in the schools.

“The eCadets have been able to help their peers and their friends who have had problems online. They’ve been able to deal with some questions that previously would have gone unanswered and also enjoy the challenges that are set, and enjoy that bonding.

“Our approach is very much not to frighten them, not to scare them, just to show them how to use it safely to give them that confidence, to give them those skills to be digital citizens, and really to live their lives safely online so that they get the most from it.

“Ysgol Acrefair was the first school in Wrexham to have the eCadets scheme and they’ve really gone for it full throttle which is brilliant to see.”

Headteacher Lisa Roberts explained: “We haven’t had huge amounts of problems with Facebook but I thought this was something we should tackle and eTreble9  have opened our eyes as to what the dangers are and how to protect yourselves.

“It’s about trusting the children, giving them a focus, and giving them set criteria that they’ve got to meet.

“We can’t ignore social media,  you can’t pretend it’s not there – you’ve got to embrace it, and to make sure the children do so safely.

“Our eCadets are brilliant and  having them on the yard every day and the children knowing that they can go to them just means that anything that comes up is dealt with immediately.”

For more information about eTreble9 visit 

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