Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)

  In response to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's invitation to interested parties to send written submissions to their inquiry on harmful content on the Internet and in video games, please find enclosed with this covering letter a copy of our response to the Byron Review, commissioned by the DCSF.[1]

  CEOP is primarily a national law enforcement agency which is affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) but retains full operational independence.

  CEOP was set up to identify, locate and protect children from sexual exploitation and online abuse; to engage and empower children, young people, parents and the community through information and education; and to enhance existing responses by working with industry to make the online environment safer by design and by improving the management of high risk offenders. Over the last year, this remit has expanded into the wider area of off line child abuse and exploitation, including child trafficking, augmented by the significant developments in the UK Government's response to Trafficking in Human Beings (THB).

  CEOP provides a different response to traditional efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation and deliver better online protection. By learning from what it does, understanding the nature of the environment and working in partnership with key stakeholders it aims to better protect children and young people through a truly holistic approach, which does not simply focus on the technology but the behaviours that surround it.

  Our approach to the issues raised around safeguarding children and young people who use new technologies, is covered in our submission to Byron Review's call for evidence. The key points were:

    —    a more holistic approach by government in dealing with all issues that affect children and young people where new technology is concerned;

    —    recognition that the focus should be on behaviours not simply the technology and that any criminal legislation about behaviour now or in the future needs to take this into account;

    —    a critical examination of whether the voluntary, self-regulation approach to protecting children and young people works effectively as it stands and actually delivers real and tangible change when it comes to the protection of children, whether it is sustainable in the long-term as new providers come on stream and actually delivers change, including the need to monitor the implementation of good practice guidance by service providers;

    —    a single agency or national centre of excellence to provide the strategic direction to empower those working locally to safeguard children and young people from harm and to lead and direct child exploitation and online protection work internationally It is essential that this single agency, work in partnership with relevant stakeholders from the pubic, private and third sectors, with the necessary resources, expertise and powers, including police and regulatory;

    —    Internet safety and security, including acceptable behaviour, to be dealt with by schools, etc across the curricula, as whole school concept, rather than as an add on to an ICT lesson;

    —    building on established brands, such as TUK, to provide nationally consistent resources for a wider Internet and security programme of educational activity to children, young people, parents/carers and those employed to protect them; and

    —    a properly-funded public awareness campaign, which includes the use of all media, but particularly TV, which delivers simple key messages about the benefits and risks associated with Internet, gaming, etc.

January 2008

1   Not printed. Back

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