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Parents lose lifeline as firm folds; SAFETY WRISTBANDS NO LONGER WORK.

Byline: PETER TAYLOR

THOUSANDS of parents all over the country have lost a lifeline to their children after the collapse of a North East firm.

Blyth-based telecoms firm DataSMS pioneered a child safety system which became the first to be recommended by national police chiefs. The basis of it was a silicon wristband which works in conjunction with a mobile phone.

Children were given a brightly-coloured wristband containing a unique code number which their parent, teacher, group leader or carer could register with a central electronic database.

The Tag n Go range was developed to provide instant communication between a lost child and their parents or group leaders if they become separated during an outing, at an event or on holiday.

If the child got lost or separated, they were to approach a responsible adult who could use the code number to instantly send a text message via mobile phone to the youngster's parent or guardian, and arrange to immediately reunite them.

The system had worldwide coverage, which allowed it to be used while children were on international trips and holidays.

It was used by schools, nurseries and voluntary youth organisations across the country.

But now users have been told the database has been switched off after DataSMS went in to voluntary liquidation.

Alison Ashley, children's centre facilitator at Shiremoor

Children's Centre on North Tyneside, said: "We bought some wristbands a few years ago from DataSMS and have used them on outings.

"We were recently told via e-mail that the company is in liquidation and as of June 16, the wristbands ceased to operate and therefore provide no protection for parents when it comes to a lost child." Just last year, DataSMS Ltd won a Secured by Design award under a scheme by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Emergency services showed keen interest and Surrey Police led the way by acquiring 20,000 of the wristbands to hand out to parents.

DataSMS could not be contacted for comment. The firm has issued a statement saying it went in to voluntary liquidation because it could not continue to trade "by reason of liabilities".
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 25, 2009
Words:353
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