The government’s refusal to consider keeping the child exploitation and online protection centre (CEOP) independent is more about “saving face than saving children” its chief executive told MPs today.
Speaking to the Home Office select committee, Jim Gamble, said his decision to resign from CEOP was because he had seen the developing business plan for the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the speed at which decisions were being taken “and it fills me with woe and concern”.
In June, home secretary Theresa May announced that several organisations including the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and CEOP would be merged into a super organisation – the NCA.
Gamble told MPs that taking CEOP into a larger agency focused on crime would not only increase bureaucracy and costs it would also mean the focus would become solely on offenders rather than keeping children safe and increasing the skills and education relating to online protection issues.
“If you don’t want to keep us independent then put us under the directorate of the Department for Education not the NCA otherwise we will lose the model that we’ve built up that keeps the child at the centre of everything we do.
“I don’t understand why the government is pursuing this despite all the advice not to. Is it about saving face or saving children? This is not right for CEOP and it’s not right for the NCA. You need the NCA to be completely focused on organised crime, you cannot use it as a Christmas tree and add on lots of different things in an effort to de-clutter the policing landscape.”
Gamble confirmed CEOP was struggling to retain staff and he would not have resigned from a job he loved if his concerns had not been serious. He denied that he had any other job to go to.
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