Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-199)|
GAMBLE QPM AND
18 MARCH 2008
Q180 Mr Evans: But none at level
Mr Gamble: Not that I am aware
of. To clarify, you can never say until you have been through
a case and examined every aspect that it has been reported properly.
There is huge pressure on our referral staff who take on this
work. You cannot switch off the tap. It is about how you identify
it. We have reconfigured our website and the reporting mechanism;
we are reconfiguring it again to make it simpler and to take away
those reports which whilst not immediately relevant to us are
relevant to the person reporting. That is about creating a conduit.
That is why we would resist anything that duplicated effort because
it would simply waste money. Much of the activity in which we
are involved is about trying to work with others to deliver something
collaboratively and in a collegiate sense, as opposed to all of
us spending the same amount of money but doing slightly different
Q181 Helen Southworth: Referring
to your triage system and the clear and obvious focus on giving
priority to serious threats of harm, what is the relationship
between the Centre and the different police forces round the country,
and how are you managing that? I am asking about that on a theoretical
basis. A few weeks ago I was in one of my local police stations
when a number of young people were brought in because of content
they had posted on the Internet. There had been an assault on
another young person which had been filmed and posted. That was
dealt with in the local police station with the young people and
their parents. What is the relationship?
Mr Gamble: That is quite appropriate.
Our relationship with the Police Service is such that we are not
direct service delivery vehicles; they are. I am a chief police
officer and I hold the title chief executive officer but the policing
element and authority derive from the position I currently hold.
I hold ACPO portfolios on child abuse investigation, countering
child abuse on the Internet and extreme pornography and also the
data communications group and how one accesses subscriber data
under part 1, chapter II of RIPA. Our relationship with forces
is constructive, but we create pressures for them because the
throughput of information we get goes out to them. There is work
at hand at the minute among myself, the president of ACPO, the
HMI and others to look at how we can streamline it and better
support that mechanism. But when CEOP identifies a child at risk
it does not turn up at the house and rescue that child; it provides
the information to the local force. Collaboratively we want you
to be reassured by your local police force about rescuing your
local children and that is about people feeling safe. It is about
dealing with criminality but delivering reassurance is something
we need to do in a more sophisticated way. Therefore, we are engaged
with the Police Service and every police force and with ACPO.
Q182 Helen Southworth: How good is
the information that comes back the other way? You have a group
of people collected together who are international specialists
and can identify threats, problems and dangers. How are the police
on the ground developing the skills to identify that intelligence
and pass it through to you?
Mr Gamble: In the past 12-month
period of the reports we have generatedit may be 3,888
or something like that but do not hold me to the exact number88%
went out to the Police Service. We have begun counting reports
that come back in. We see a very positive increase in feedback
from the Police Service. Since August of last year we have had
800 intelligence reports come back to us from the Police Service.
Therefore, 88% of the work we do is going out to UK policingthat
is positiveand a significant number of reports come back
in if you measure simply from August last year. I think the situation
is improving. We need to tailor the service we deliver to the
broader child protection teams in the community as opposed to
just the police. Within the Centrethe reason I do not speak
with authority but the Centre doeswe have a number of child
protection advisers who are accredited social workers bought and
paid for and embedded by the NSPCC in the work we do. They have
a right of veto over any of the investigations or operations we
undertake if they think that child welfare is not being put first.
They have a direct line with us into social services. Police forces,
be it Devon and Cornwall, Surrey, Greater Manchester and West
Midlands, have seconded and embedded police officers in the Centre.
Multi-agency working is not something you do once a month or once
every fortnight; it is every day round the same table. That brings
together collective experience that I believe is hard to undermine.
For example, we have an individual from the National Centre for
Missing and Exploited Children in America. He has worked there
for 10 years and now leads our work on partnership. Natalie Mead
who led much of the child protection work and CSR for a large
UK-based IT company is now head of Safer by Design. People we
pick come in with specialist skills because they add an ingredient
that allows us to attack the problem from a 360-degree standpoint.
Q183 Helen Southworth: You have given
us some really good information around how professional bodies
are upping their skills levels to be able to identify these issues
and work together to deal with them and also how you work with
parents to enable them to take control of their own children's
safety. What about those children who are most vulnerable because
they do not necessarily have families who can or wish to support
them some of whom are made even more vulnerable because they no
longer have a sense of personal safety because they do not have
a sense of personal value? They find it very hard to report things
that are happening to them because they do not believe they deserve
Mr Nagle: That is one of the main
reasons why we are working very closely with local children's
safeguarding boards and engaging them in our education programme,
so hard-to-reach children get the same benefit that other children
have. We want to make sure that our education programme goes to
every single child in the country, not just the ones in mainstream
schooling but those who are vulnerable and harder to reach. The
value of what we do is that we can create products that are nationally
consistent and allow local people to deliver that to their kids
locally. They know the ones who are vulnerable and know how to
reach them in a way we cannot. We can give them the method and
means to do it but allow them to deliver that message for us.
Q184 Helen Southworth: Are you working
with children who are disengaged? It is an incredibly difficult
question to ask because by virtue of the fact they are disengaged
they usually do not have contact with statutory bodies or parental
support, but those are the children who can be specifically targeted
Mr Gamble: We have worked with
SENCO and many other groups. We are consulted on the Care Matters
report. The issue is: how do you stretch out to those difficult
places to reach to make sure you educate, empower and engage those
children? Our educational products are free to every credible
entity that has legitimate access to children. We recognise the
need emotionally to engage them. The ThinkuKnow range of films
we have produced has won numerous awards. If you include the website
and programme itself, it has won nine awards ranging from the
IBC awards here to the British Film Institute awards and two gold
awards at the New York Film Festival. They are deliberately short
and have emotional content supported by modern music so they stick
with young people and the intellectual message is delivered. For
us reaching children in care is important and we support those
who deliver that direct service. Reaching children with special
needs is also critically important and we support those who do
that. We configure the service we deliver to the needs of those
particular organisations that are already required by statute
to do those tasks; otherwise, we would simply create confusion
in the marketplace by trying to deliver directly ourselves. The
last thing we need in the market is more confusion.
Q185 Helen Southworth: You are focusing
very clearly on sexual abuse. You have given us some information
about directing other reporting activities. Do you think that
the future of CEOP is to deal with some of those issues as well
or is it about supporting perhaps other more appropriate bodies
to deal with it?
Mr Gamble: That is an interesting
question and is one to which certainly my mind is not closed.
Do I believe that we probably have the best contemporary understanding
from a statutory organisation's point of view? The answer to that
is yes. Whilst I am from CEOP and am concerned with images and
we are talking about child abuse, I think that the principles
established apply across the board. You could reinvent something
if others felt more comfortable for that to be dealt with by something
that perhaps did not have the element of law enforcement attached
to it. Law enforcement is what makes us different. We have teeth.
Ultimately, when those people create a threat we will find them
and hold them to account and our statistics stand testimony to
that. It depends on what that other thing would be. If it is an
environment where people come together as a collective and agree
mutual interest, achieve consensus and then do things I am not
sure. There needs to be a framework that lays down the minimum
standard. The minimum standard cannot be agreed by those people
who occupy the enterprise park because I believe that ultimately
public will be put in jeopardy. It will gravitate to the lowest
common denominator and no one will be thanked for that. We have
built something that is credible. On your visit I would welcome
any of you robustly to test anything we have said here to lift
the stone and apply the principles you see there to other areas.
If it is an abusive image and it passes the "reasonableness"
test and you can be prosecuted for it under the Obscene Publications
Act then you will be prosecuted for it if it is online; if it
incites an act of terrorism or another criminal act then you will
be prosecuted for it. If it is something that a reasonable person
of 18 would see in a cinema then it needs to be treated in that
way wherever that manifests itself online. If those people want
to behave reasonably and ethically as an over-18 access area they
must make provision to ensure that happens. Simply to abdicate
responsibility and say there are other small parts of the Internet
that will not comply is like saying that we will not civilise
any town in the wild west because there are certain elements that
will not comply and we will try to get round it. Fix the biggest
part and then concentrate on the smallest.
Mr Nagle: The key point is not
to confuse parents of children any further. In the same way that
we do not have a different number for different types of crime,
why do something different online? There should be one reporting
mechanism so people and children understand they can go to that.
We must make sure there is not duplication. We want to avoid confusion
among the general public which can easily happen.
Mr Gamble: If you contact our
report page today we will divert you automatically to the IWF;
if you come to us on bullying we will send you to There4me with
the NSPCC. If you need to you will be able to talk to someone.
It is about creating a sensible portal where people can go. What
can Government do? It is about awareness raising which is critical.
We go into schools and do cascade training. If you want to raise
awareness in one place quickly to make a difference the answer
is television but that costs money.
Q186 Chairman: You praised both Microsoft
with MSN and AOL for the work they are doing. What about sounding
out other companies like those that provide social networking
sites such as Facebook and Bebo? Do you think they are doing enough
to protect young people?
Mr Gamble: Very few people are
doing enough. Those people who have in place a mechanism for reporting
abuse where danger manifests itself are doing a good job and the
right thing. I am absolutely positive having talked to Haymoo
and MySpace that they are working towards the creation of a safer
environment. I believe that we should be able to come to some
form of accommodation with them. I hope it is much sooner rather
than later because at the end of the day we have the frustrating
position where people say they need to talk and engage and we
do that, but talk is cheap and money buys whisky. Ultimately,
we can talk only for so long and then we need to see action and
not words. We are coming to the point where we expect to see action
very soon; if not, then the answer to your question concerning
a broad range of groups would be significantly different.
Q187 Chairman: Are there any who
prove unwilling to co-operate with you?
Mr Gamble: Yes.
Q188 Chairman: Would you like to
tell us who they are?
Mr Gamble: I would not. Are people
unwilling to work with us? In my experience and judgment some
people who say they are willing are not but they are the minority
although a difficult one. It would be unfair and unhelpful for
me to put a corporate label on that.
Q189 Chairman: Are we talking about
Mr Gamble: We are talking about
specific members of the online industry as groups. I will not
sit in front of you and say that everyone engages with us 100%
because you know that is not true. Are some people difficult and
do they avoid engagement? Yes, they do. Is that down to individuals
within the organisation or to a greater organisational imperative?
I am not sure of the answer to that question and that is why I
am not prepared to malign any organisation on the basis of my
view having engaged one or two individuals within it. That would
be unhelpful and extremely destructive. Sometimes we talk about
industry as if it is a huge single entity, but it is not. As with
every area of life, be it Parliament or elsewhere, one has the
good, mediocre and bad. Many industry partners are very good;
some are mediocre and some are just not good.
Q190 Chairman: But if you are to
obtain a level of protection it requires presumably that all the
various players in the industry co-operate. If there is one who
does not that will immediately act as a magnet for all the people
who wish to take advantage.
Mr Gamble: Let us ask ourselves:
why would there be one, two or three who do not? If you have a
veto you can exercise it. If in an enterprise park one business
says it will not comply with health and safety or moderate its
amusement arcade they will all play to the same rules. That is
why it is unfair to some industry partners who do the very best
for the very best of reasons that others do not. Unless there
is a framework within which they work you disadvantage those who
do the right thing.
Q191 Chairman: But if there are one
or two who refuse to co-operate what can you do about it?
Mr Gamble: We can further engage
and lobby individuals in government and industry. There are individuals
in industry who believe that there should be a better framework
in which to deal with this. I am the father of three and I head
up the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre. I will not
let anyone who represents a risk for children to hide behind me.
There comes a time when you say that enough is enough and you
believe that this or that individual or company is not constructively
engaging, but we have not yet reached that time.
Q192 Chairman: Perhaps I may suggest
to you that naming and shaming will possibly have the greatest
influence on a company to come into line.
Mr Gamble: That is something I
have resisted. My level of resistance to that idea is being reduced
as time goes on, but I do not think we are there yet. We have
an opportunity in what you are doing and in the Byron review.
Tanya Byron understands children and this environment. No matter
what, we all come to this table with our own baggage, so I come
from a particular point of view. That does not meanI accept
thisI am right. I give you my experience and understanding;
others will come with their own. Tanya has engaged each and every
one of the individuals operating in the field and has come to
it with fresh eyes that perhaps are not tainted by negative or
positive past experience. I look forward with interest to seeing
what comes out of that and to reflect on how we can play a part
if we believe it is constructive.
Q193 Helen Southworth: You talked
about the environment being the same and said that it was all
society. You also referred to a young person going into an off-licence
and purchasing alcohol which would be dealt with under the law.
One of the matters that has quite impressed me in terms of management
of the night economy has been the policing concept of the 10 best
and 10 worst; that is, you identify best practice which is supported
and encouraged and identify those people who do not choose to
participate in best practice and have what you suspect is poor
practice and so there is police focus on those premises. Have
you thought about that sort of thing in terms of Internet providers
and the industry, that is, to choose whether they want to be among
the best or to have a lot of police focus?
Mr Gamble: We have not thought
about it in those terms, but because of limited resources across
the Police Service we are intelligence-led. We will manifest our
interest where we know there is a threat or we believe the environment
is such that it creates a threat. I spoke at a school just on
the outskirts of London yesterday and a 17-year-old who had done
some research for the presentationshe did it, not mesaid
she had gone to a site designed for people below the age of 10.
She joined up and gave a false age. She asked 20 whether they
would be her friend and 15 accepted. These are very young kids.
Externally, we have to know about that before we can deal with
it. Is that a one-off? When you advise that site of the issue
do they listen to that advice and work with you to construct a
Safer by Design environment? If so, that is good. Do we go to
a position where in our annual report we show the top 10 and the
10 areas where there is the greatest danger? First, we have to
remember that we are dealing with a range of commercial entities,
some of whom are outstanding and some of whom will immediately
resort to litigation. If you undermine their market value be prepared
for a battle in court. We debate whether or not the law applies
in the virtual world all the time but I do not see that taking
place when it has to do with the commercial viability of a particular
entity, or one commercial harm compared with another in that area.
There is no problem about one suing another over virtual or real
space. We need to be conscious of the environment in which we
live. If Government recognises that it would be valuable to highlight
poor practice, in the same way that Her Majesty's Inspectorate
of Constabulary will inspect police services and they will be
scored as being satisfactory or not meeting the standard, then
perhaps that is an excellent idea and we will certainly take it
Helen Southworth: Perhaps this is something
for industry to look at.
Q194 Mr Evans: How dangerous is the
Internet for children?
Mr Gamble: The Internet represents
huge opportunity and risk. The issue for us is managing the risks
so they can capitalise on the opportunity which outweighs the
Q195 Mr Evans: Are there any sites
out there that come to your attention time and time again as being
the most dangerous ones for children?
Mr Gamble: The most dangerous
sites are the ones we occupy and close down. For a variety of
operational reasons I would not highlight where we operate under
cover because that is how we do it. It is more to do with trends
and themes. Many of the social networking sites, for example,
will be about venture capital and investing in something to see
if it works. They can be undermined by young people moving from
one area to another. My saying an area is bad may increase the
throughput of traffic and thereby it will be able to attract more
advertisers because young people being young people will want
to go somewhere else.
Q196 Mr Evans: Without naming it,
is there a site that takes more of your time than others? The
paedophiles seem to know what the sites are and tend to congregate
on specific sites.
Mr Gamble: I think that would
be unfair. The paedophiles in the real world will go wherever
children loiter, whether it is outside school or a youth club
or swimming pool; they will do exactly the same thing online.
Wherever young people go they will follow. The Internet did not
invent this. My office is in Pimlico. There used to be a photographer's
studio half a mile away run by a Henry Hiller. His premises were
raided by the Metropolitan Police and 132,000 imagesmany
of his own young sonsprinted on glass were recovered. He
was raided in 1874. The Internet did not invent this and is not
responsible for it. People will break the law online or offline;
people will post things that are inappropriate online or offline.
What we have to do is adopt a sensible position where we all accept
our responsibilities: Government, industry, law enforcement agencies
and parents. We need to collaborate sensibly and make it as easily
accessible as possible.
Q197 Mr Evans: Facebook is probably
now too old for youngsters because a lot of politicians have gone
onto it and probably frighten them off, but Bebo and maybe one
or two other sitesI do not have the faintest idea what
they areare the place where youngsters will go. There is
also a social responsibility, is there not, for the owners of
those sites to give advice to youngsters who go on to them?
Mr Gamble: Absolutely. To be fair,
we do see some very constructive behaviour on those sites and
we have engaged with them. As to those sites, why is our report
of abuse mechanism not in there? Why is it not alongside the traffic,
in other words when the children go in? Why is it not where the
predator can see it so they are aware this is a policed environment?
Q198 Mr Evans: I know you do not
want to name these sites, but the fact is that if there are any
sites where we know youngsters go onto and they refuse to put
up your reporting links to them those are the ones that are dragging
their feet; they are not playing ball?
Mr Gamble: Before we jump to conclusions,
in some cases those sites are engaging with us at the minute about
how best to do it, so we are reconfiguring what we do and they
are helping us with that. We need to be clear about this. Do we
want it on all sites? Yes. Do we need to listen to industry's
concerns so we deal with more than simply the issue of sexual
abuse? Yes, we do.
Q199 Mr Evans: I am with the Chairman
on this. I think that you should consider long and hard that if
there are sites out there that youngsters use and the owners of
the sites are not prepared to play ball and take social responsibility
you have a responsibility to name them.
Mr Gamble: I agree with you, but
that is not the issue here. I am not going to give the name of
one social networking site or another on the back of this. I am
frustrated by the length of time it takes when we engage with
some companies as opposed to others to make progress around child
protection. We need to recognise that this is a shifting marketplace
where personalities and ownership move. There needs to be a consistent
framework; otherwise, we sometimes jeopardise legitimate business
that is working with us by saying the wrong thing at the wrong
time. Should we create a list? I would welcome Government inviting
me to create a list of those cases where we have engaged positively
and received positive support and those cases where we have not.
That is an issue for my Government sponsoring department to consider.
Ultimately, we are genuinely moving forward. The social networking
sites are a new phenomenon. I do not believe we understood them
properly. The advent of Web 2.0 self-generated material changed
the dynamic. For goodness sake, we should not be further seduced
by technology or technologists. Governance is not about nannying
but creating safe environments where young and not so young people
can capitalise on the opportunities. We need a better framework
because the present one is not as good as it should be.