Plans to merge the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) into the new National Crime Agency will go ahead, the Home Office has confirmed, but it will now keep its own budget and governance structure.
The announcement follows the resignation of the former head of CEOP, Jim Gamble, last October over the proposal to merge CEOP into the new NCA – touted as Britain’s version of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Gamble told MPs at the time that the move would increase bureaucracy and costs, and place the focus solely on offenders rather than the safety of children and increasing education about online protection issues.
Crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said keeping CEOP’s governance structure would let it sustain the unique partnerships it had formed within education, children’s social care and the voluntary sector.
“As a core part of the new National Crime Agency, CEOP will not only be in the best possible position to continue its vital work but will also benefit from being able to draw on the resources and support available across the whole agency,” he added.
CEOP was established in April 2006 and has since helped to smash 250 high-risk sex offender networks. In two recent operations, 332 suspects were arrested across the UK.
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