Three senior managers of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) are likely to follow chief executive Jim Gamble out of the door in the furore over government plans for the organisation’s future.
Sources close to CEOP have confirmed that the three intend to leave the organisation or take early retirement. It follows the resignation of Gamble who is said to be concerned that plans to merge CEOP into a new National Crime Agency in 2013 will not adequately meet children’s needs.
Many working at CEOP – created in 2006 to gather intelligence to dismantle paeodophile networks and convict child abusers – are experts in child protection and have no desire to work in an organised crime unit, sources say.
One source said it would not be surprising to see more people leave CEOP as the change in focus could see “commitments wavering”.
Gamble has been supported by police chiefs who claim CEOP should continue as a separate agency. However, home secretary Theresa May has already said she does not feel the work of CEOP is best undertaken by creating a new quango.
A source close to CEOP said: “Calling CEOP a quango really fails to understand the complex work it does in the field of online child protection. The concern is that CEOP’s remit will be swallowed up and this emotive part of work will not be prioritised if it becomes part of the National Crime Agency.”
But some believe merging CEOP may improve child protection. Malcolm Hutty, a spokesperson for the London Internet Exchange, told Computer Weekly: “We believe that, if integrating CEOP into the National Crime Agency results in closer co-operation with international law enforcement specialists in organised crime, then this change could significantly improve child protection on the internet.”
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails