Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Question 200)


18 MARCH 2008

  Q200  Mr Evans: You talked earlier about publicity and sometimes the lack of it because a lot of people who want to prey on children do it because they think they have anonymity. Now and again there are high profile cases like Peter Townshend or Chris Langham where, all of a sudden, you realise what they have been doing. They are not anonymous and can be tracked down. Do you think that the media have a responsibility to give greater publicity to the fact that these people who prey on children or try to groom them do not have anonymity and in a number of cases these people end up with custodial sentences?

  Mr Gamble: Absolutely. Those who saw Crimewatch last night would have seen the Son of God operation which involved a site called Kids the Light of our Lives. That investigation was co-ordinated and delivered through the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre and the Virtual Global Task Force which is a law enforcement alliance across Canada, America, Australia and Interpol. Seven hundred paedophiles were identified around the world and already in the UK 120 have been prosecuted through the work we are doing. The issue of anonymity has gone. We may not find you tomorrow but we will knock on your door one day in future because the one thing for sure about this environment is that you leave a forensic fingerprint. When I joined the police nearly 30 years ago the first thing I was taught in the training school in relation to forensics was that every contact left a trace. That is never truer than in this environment. Take child abuse as an example here. Child abuse images are a symptom of crime; they are a symptom of the fact that if someone has hurt a child, photographed it and used the image, sometimes as a commodity and sometimes as a means to engage and influence others, it does not matter what it is. You can take any real world scenario and police or govern it in the virtual world. We in the UK can choose to wait and follow or to lead. I believe that because of our collective experience across industry, government and policing we have an opportunity to lead it.

  Chairman: Those are all the questions we have. Thank you very much.

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