The government’s quest to cull quangos has come under fire again after the head of Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), Jim Gamble, resigned in protest at moves to merge the body into the National Crime Agency in 2013, claiming children would suffer as a result.
Although the plans were announced in July as part of the Home Office’s review of policing, Gamble was reportedly worried about growing fears that child safety would be a low priority for the new super-organisation, alongside organised crime and border policing.
In his resignation letter to home secretary Theresa May, Gamble said he did not believe plans to assimilate the centre served the best interests of children.
CEOP was set up in 2006 to gather intelligence to dismantle paeodophile networks and convict child abusers. The National Crime Agency is due to be launched in 2013 along the lines of the FBI in the US.
May said: “The government recognises the importance of child protection and wants to build upon the work of CEOP, but does not necessarily feel this is best done by creating a new quango.”
She said Gamble had “done a great job” and confirmed arrangements for his successor would be outlined “in due course”.
Gamble has been supported by police chiefs and campaigners, who claim CEOP should continue as a separate agency.
Warwickshire chief constable Keith Bristow, head of crime at the Assocation of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said: “ACPO continues in firm support of CEOP operating as a standalone agency. If government chooses not to support this option, then ACPO would seek to be consulted on whatever new governance arrangements are put in place.”
Campaigner Sara Payne, whose daughter was murdered by a paedophile in 2000, told the BBC that the government’s plans and Gamble’s resignation were “the worst possible news”.
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