Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 70

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Select Committee

on Tuesday 30 October 2012

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Nicola Blackwood

Dr Julian Huppert

Steve McCabe

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick


Examination of Witness

Witness: Peter Davies, ACPO lead on Child Protection and Abuse Investigation and Missing Children, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Mr Davies, good afternoon. You are in demand before Select Committees.

Peter Davies: Indeed.

Chair: I have to tell you that when Jim Gamble went and we heard that CEOP was going to be part of the NCA we were very worried that you might lose your profile, but you now find yourself centre stage as far as these very serious matters are concerned. Could we deal first with Operation Yewtree and the Savile allegations?

Peter Davies: Of course.

Q2 Chair: How are you involved in respect of these allegations? Are you leading an investigation? Are you providing advice to those who are investigating?

Peter Davies: Thank you for the opportunity. Let me explain. In addition to being Chief Executive of CEOP, I am the lead for ACPO-the Association of Chief Police Officers-on child protection, child abuse investigation and missing children. It is in that capacity that I have most involvement with the Jimmy Savile case. Prior to the broadcast of the Exposure programme a few weeks ago, it became very clear from the media that a number of people were coming forward making disclosures, primarily against Jimmy Savile, of abuse that had happened some time ago. At that point there was no way of knowing where the majority, or a substantial chunk of those offences, might have taken place, so we put a process in place, supported by the Metropolitan police, to make sure that there was support for any victims who wanted to disclose through contacting helplines, but also so that we could gather all the data and get the most comprehensive picture possible.

Q3 Chair: You fit in where? You are obviously not running Yewtree; Yewtree is being run by the Met.

Peter Davies: I was just going to come to that. The day after the broadcast, it became clear that at least one of the centres of activity had been London and the Metropolitan police stepped up and volunteered to take on the inquiry. At that point I stepped back. The inquiry, the gathering of data and the commissioning of any investigations following that are in the hands of the Metropolitan police, led by Commander Peter Spindler. Where I retain an interest on behalf of ACPO is that the circumstances around Operation Yewtree may well raise questions that might affect public confidence in policing or provoke questions we should ask of ourselves, because we are very much in the business of making sure that such a series of events could not possibly happen again.

Chair: Indeed.

Peter Davies: I still have an interest in the police service identifying what lessons may be learnt, learning them and acting upon that learning.

Q4 Chair: Very helpful. When you last came before us you rated the public sector’s ability to protect children from child exploitation as being five out of 10. Knowing what you now know and looking at the whole situation since you have been director, would you improve on that score for the public sector or do you think it is worse than you suspected?

Peter Davies: I gave two scores: one for effort, one for attainment.

Chair: Yes you did.

Peter Davies: I think both scores would have gone up in the intervening period. There is evidence, for example, from Barnardo’s, who published a report in April this year that showed that a significant proportion of Local Safeguarding Children Boards-who very much have the best opportunity to impact on this-had committed to far greater activity than was apparent to us when we did our thematic assessment the previous year. I have contacts both through ACPO and through CEOP with a number of police forces and with institutions such as the National Working Group, led by Sheila Taylor MBE.

It seems extremely clear that practitioners are embracing the need to learn more, improve their processes, invest resources and knowledge in dealing more effectively with group-related child sexual exploitation. Effort has moved up, attainment has moved up, because more forces are delivering investigations, and I know of a number of proactive investigations yet to see the light of day that are taking place around the country. Both scores have improved. [Interruption.] I apologise, I am trying to talk over the bell.

Chair: No, we should apologise to you. You are giving us some very interesting information. I am not sure whether that is a vote or they are just telling us they are closing. Let us go on. You paint a better picture, but yesterday you were quite critical, were you not? You said you were sad and angry that until recently some frontline professionals had struggled to grasp the complex nature of sexual exploitation.

Peter Davies: The issue is how far I cast my eyes back.

Chair: Mr Davies, I apologise. I was relying on the information of Mr Winnick who is very experienced and distinguished, because I too saw Remaining Orders of the Day. However, he was wrong. We are going to suspend the Committee for the vote, but I know you are in difficulties.

Peter Davies: I might have difficulties because of another Committee.

Chair: I assure that the next Committee is also going to be voting, so they will all be ten minutes late.

Peter Davies: Thank you. I will be here.

Chair: Okay, so I am going to suspend the Committee for 10 minutes.

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming-

Q5 Chair: To repeat my question, in case people have forgotten, only yesterday you said you were sad and angry that until recently some frontline professionals had struggled to grasp the complex nature of sexual exploitation. You launched a very helpful video, which is now on YouTube, but does that not show that people are just not trained to deal with this very important issue, even now in 21st-century Britain?

Peter Davies: Yes, could I just separate a couple of things? Thank you for acknowledging the training video. What I was referring to there were some examples when it seemed very clear that people had not taken steps to identify a child at risk and done the right thing by them. I think for anybody who has spent their whole working life trying to protect the public, "sad" is not quite adequate for how you feel about that, because that is not what any of us joined the police service for. My role at the moment is not to say everything has always been fine, but to acknowledge that the police service, among other partners, has to raise its game and set about the business of raising our game with all due urgency. There is nothing wrong with having a little bit of feeling behind that as well. It is implicit in the fact that we created a training video that the need for frontline practitioners, for people who might be-[Interruption.] Do you want me to go on?

Q6 Chair: What struck me most from the evidence that we received from David Crompton was the fact that they had no prosecutions this year for child grooming and child abuse?

Peter Davies: Yes.

Q7 Chair: Not only that, but he said there were only eight officers now in Rochdale dealing with this issue. But we have heard that since Yewtree began, they now have 30 serving Metropolitan police officers dealing with those allegations. I just wondered about that, and the Committee, I think, were concerned that the expertise was not getting out to the 43 forces.

Peter Davies: Yes. I think Mr Crompton was referring to the very specialist officers dealing with very little else except grooming and child sexual exploitation, and if he did not at the time, I am sure he would have wanted in hindsight to point out that, of course, they can be supported by a number of other officers and staff from South Yorkshire police to deal with some of these inquiries. Indeed, those who do these inquiries can get support from CEOP, from the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre, from SOCA and, in future, from the NCA. The other observation I would make is that prosecution is not the only measure of success here.

Q8 Chair: What is the other measure?

Peter Davies: There are a number of measures, and effort does not always result in successful prosecution. These are very complex, very time-consuming inquiries and they are a considerable investment of resources. For all their importance, they are not the only job that the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire has to do.

Chair: Sure.

Peter Davies: He has to make decisions about apportioning his resources accordingly. But my point is if that, for one year, there have not been any successful prosecutions, I do not think that is the same thing as them not having done any work in this area, because sometimes these investigations can take significantly more than a year to come to fruition. In answer to your question about what the other outcomes are, equally valid outcomes are that children who are in these hugely vulnerable situations are rescued from them, safeguarded and protected and move on to be survivors of victimisation rather than ultimate victims.

Q9 Chair: But we do not have statistics on it all, do we? Who would have the statistics? Although the previous witnesses are going to write to us with information they have, you are very clear that if we come to you and ask about the number of people involved in online grooming, you will tell us.

Peter Davies: Yes.

Q10 Chair: It is a pleasure taking evidence from CEOP because they seem to have their information at their fingertips and they tell Committees and the House what is going on. There seems to be an absence of those facts and figures, maybe not conclusions, and I accept what you say-this takes a long time-but the facts and figures that are necessary for the public to be reassured.

Peter Davies: Yes. I am very grateful for the positive comment about CEOP. I was present for the previous evidence. I think we clearly identified last year in our thematic assessment, and through ongoing work-and I am sure the Children’s Commissioner for England, when they publish their interim report in November, will identify-that there is still a way to go before really reliable national data collected to a consistent standard are available on this phenomenon.

Chair: Yes, thank you.

Peter Davies: So, I would not put myself forward as being the person who has all that data for a number of different reasons, which I think you know.

Chair: We accept that.

Q11 Mr Winnick: What evidence is there, Mr Davies, of the internet being used by groups and gangs-criminals of the despicable variety-to groom children for sexual exploitation?

Peter Davies: I think here we are getting into a difficult area where if we are not careful, we can over-categorise things and fail to see the joins. I think I am right, Mr Winnick, in understanding that your question is about the extent to which these groups, who engage in something that is loosely called localised grooming, also use the internet to do so, or is it a wider question about how many people?

Mr Winnick: The former.

Peter Davies: Thank you. The truth is that social networking and mobile data and mobile communications are pretty much universal for children and young people who, of course, fall victim to this kind of thing. We have plenty of cases where a group that targets children locally will use social networking or internet-based communications as an integral part of what they do. My professional view though is that it is an adjunct to a pattern of offending that is really based on spotting vulnerability in local areas offline. It is a tool in their toolkit, but it is not the primary driver of what they are doing. That remains, in my view, identifying children who are vulnerable almost in a physical sense-seeing what their habits are, seeing where they are and engaging with them face to face.

Q12 Mr Winnick: Given the very nature of social media, is there any firmer action that could be taken by the authorities, by the police, by Government?

Peter Davies: That is a massive debate. The Committee are moving on to the communications data legislation, which, I suppose, is approaching that question from one particular angle. There are ways in which legislation might increase the responsibility on service providers and on communicams from service providers to be more vigilant in looking for grooming activity on their networks and have an obligation to report it. To be fair, on a voluntary basis, we have a very good relationship with the majority of service providers. They support something called the Internet Watch Foundation that does a lot of very good work to take down and deny people access to images of child abuse, for example. Against the extra bits of legislation that could happen, there has to be weighed the fact that there is freedom of speech, and people do not take kindly to legislation that can be seen as censoring or restricting access to the internet.

Q13 Mr Winnick: It may be not the solution after all.

Peter Davies: I am not sure it is the solution. I think we need to tackle the human behaviour. Actually that is a truism about just about everything CEOP does. It is about human behaviour; the fact that it takes place now on the internet does not take away that our main focus is human behaviour in all its unpleasantnesses.

Mr Winnick: One would have to be an incurable optimist to believe that human behaviour is going to change to that extent. It is a question of dealing with what undoubtedly is a form of criminality. Thank you very much, Mr Davies.

Peter Davies: Thank you.

Q14 Nicola Blackwood: Mr Davies, you mentioned earlier that just having no prosecutions for one year is not an indicator of no action being taken by a police force, which clearly is the case. We do not want to discourage police forces that are taking action in this area. But clearly there has been an ongoing problem with very few prosecutions for a long period of time, not just for one year. Would you agree that there is an ongoing problem with not just police forces not recognising the problem, although some are taking action now, but also the CPS not wanting to prosecute, not finding witnesses credible and feeling that it is difficult to get evidence that would hold up in court?

Peter Davies: Yes, I would agree. It is a whole range of issues. It is not just about police forces, although that is where I can speak with most authority. It is fair to say that the investment in training and resource that was explained by Chief Constable Crompton is a good step forward and the picture I have from policing is that it is developing at a pace in terms of tackling this phenomenon. We are going to move that along with a further action plan on behalf of ACPO to make sure that the right steps are in place in every force and the right tools are available to every force. But yes, of course, one of the aspects of this is that it is hard to prosecute. We know that victims occasionally do not realise they are victims until quite late in the exploitation process. They are often selected for their vulnerability, and paedophiles generally select victims partly because they would make poor witnesses and would not even have the confidence to report. The prosecution service have to make decisions based on the realistic prospect of conviction and what is in the public interest. On both those counts, it can be difficult to balance the best interests of the victim.

Q15 Nicola Blackwood: Yes, that is true. But given that the Director of Public Prosecutions has himself accepted that there needs to be a review of the way in which the CPS handles these cases, I think that we can accept that there is significant room for improvement.

Peter Davies: Yes, and I think the room for improvement in the CPS will be the ready availability of sufficient specialist expertise to the prosecutors who have to assist and direct in these investigations and make charging decisions and prepare prosecutions.

Q16 Nicola Blackwood: Can I take you back to some of the comments you were making about online grooming? We received evidence from the Children’s Commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, who explained that her inquiry had found evidence that online pornography was exacerbating the problem of child sex abuse by normalising abusive behaviour. Can I ask whether, in your professional opinion, that has been your experience, given that CEOP not only has experience in online child abuse but has also moved more recently into child sexual exploitation?

Peter Davies: In my professional opinion, the level of exposure to pornography that is available on the internet can be harmful for children who access it, and actually can be harmful for anybody who is vulnerable to that kind of thing. Clearly, it has a role to play in normalising or making people think that some types of behaviour are appropriate when actually they are not. I do see it as an issue. My professional view is that there is work being done on that, and I do not see it as the overriding driver behind child sexual exploitation. It is a risk, it is a concern, but there are other bigger factors at play.

Q17 Nicola Blackwood: What is your view of the proposals to put in place upstream filters? There are two areas. I do not whether if you are able to answer the first question. Do you think that it would be technically possible and, secondly, do you think that it is the best answer to deal with the problem of easily accessible pornography that children can find on the internet?

Peter Davies: I have no problem with the concept; I know that some do, but I personally do not. The issue for me is it could be technically feasible to put it in place but I do not think we should underestimate the ability of people who are able and adept at operating the internet to get to what they want to get to regardless of what filters are put in place. I see it as a useful risk mitigation measure if it proves to be acceptable. I do not think it will stop pornography falling into the hands of children, for example, nor will it, of itself, stop the circulation and availability of child abuse images.

Q18 Nicola Blackwood: Is that your personal view? I know that you work with a number of partners like Google and Facebook and so on; would that be the sort of position that the partners within those organisations take or not?

Peter Davies: I am not sure they would take the same position. They might have a different view about the advisability and feasibility technically of doing it. My personal view is that anything is technically feasible if you really want to do it enough. The issue for me is that I do not think, of itself, it would stop children having access to pornography, which I think is what people would like it to do. Children will find a way on the internet just as, frankly, those that wanted to generally found a way before the internet existed. As a risk mitigation tool, I have no problem with it and I think it will help some children by denying them access to material that they should not see. I do not think it will stop children accessing pornography online.

Q19 Nicola Blackwood: What is a better way forward?

Peter Davies: I do not see anything wrong with that as part of a wider way forward. Another equally essential part of the way forward is doing the kind of thing that CEOP does, which is educating children who will be exposed to material, who may well be exposed to material, whether we like it or not-educating them to understand what is going on, to understand the risks involved in their activity, and to understand what to do if things go wrong or if they have concerns.

Going back to my previous point to Mr Winnick, we are dealing with human behaviour. I do think human behaviour can be changed and one of the best ways of doing that is giving human beings better information and better thought processes about these things. I do not see any problem with what is being proposed in terms of denying some children access to pornography. That will not be the whole answer; we will still have to end up sitting down having proper conversations with our kids about how to deal with that material responsibly because it is still a risk that they might access it.

Q20 Bridget Phillipson: Apologies for missing the first part of your evidence to the Committee. What role do you think that web hosts and ISPs should have in identifying and removing indecent images of children?

Peter Davies: At the moment, there is general support for the Internet Watch Foundation, which has a role on their behalf of circulating reference numbers of websites that carry illegal imagery, and basically denying people access to them. Within the United States, by way of comparison, there is legislation that places an obligation on service providers to report incidents of child exploitation to a receiving centre, and a slice of those reports come to the UK. It may well be that we will want to place a further obligation on service providers to report it than is currently the case in the UK. It may well be that we would also want to place some expectation on them to look for it more proactively than may currently be the case. I am no legislator, but those would be the two key areas where we could possibly look for more from the industry.

Q21 Bridget Phillipson: That certainly sounds like a sensible approach, which could lead to the outcomes that we all want to see. Do you have any understanding as to why we have not gone down that route so far?

Peter Davies: I do not really understand why we have not gone down that route so far. Having some awareness of what it took to get the US model into law-the Protect Our Children Act 2008-I do not underestimate the difficulties in doing so, and I think that came about partly by a happy set of circumstances whereby both the main parties actually ended up agreeing on that piece of legislation. I am simply speaking from a practitioner’s point of view of what would help. I do not underestimate the difficulty of it.

Bridget Phillipson: Thank you.

Q22 Chair: Following on from what Bridget Phillipson said, an FOI request revealed that five police forces had seized 26 million images of children on the internet. Only 2,312 people were arrested for those offences. Your own figures show that there were 50,000 indecent images on peer-to-peer networks. That is roughly seven times larger than the 7,200 names that came over in Operation Ore. It may sound as if we are just keen to prosecute everybody we can, but at the end of the day how do you actually prosecute that very high volume of people in order to stop the indecent images of children appearing? These are phenomenally large figures.

Peter Davies: They are phenomenally large figures and, from my point of view, if it was possible to investigate every single one and prosecute every single one, then I would be perfectly happy to do so.

Q23 Chair: But is it right that you have been trialling the sending of letters to people to say, "We notice that you have been on to the website, you have accessed indecent images, please stop"? Is that what you are doing?

Peter Davies: No, it is not what I am doing.

Q24 Chair: But have you heard of that?

Peter Davies: I have heard of that. If I can just continue with the previous issue, this is criminality. It needs to be addressed as criminality. Just because lots of people do it, it does not reduce the level of criminality it represents. Actually, the report that we put out in June this year identified a pretty strong link between the possession of child abuse images and the risk of somebody being a contact abuser. It is criminality in its own right, it is a re-victimisation of the children whose abuse is depicted in the images and it is an indicator and risk to the public, and I would love there to be the capacity to do more about it. In the absence of that capacity, and I think the National Crime Agency might increase that capacity from time to time, we have to prioritise. Within that population there are people who are clearly posing an extremely high threat to children, and that is where we direct our efforts. The initiative that you are describing was an attempt by one police force, possibly two, to deal with all the other people who, because of prioritisation and resources, cannot be tackled any other way. It was a pilot scheme and it was done under very controlled circumstances.

Q25 Chair: Was it successful?

Peter Davies: I have not seen evidence of its success and I would not be recommending it to other forces to try. But let us be very clear, from my point of view, it is probably better to do something about these people than nothing. I would prefer that we had the capacity to investigate these people for the criminals they are, and arrest and prosecute them in every single case.

Q26 Chair: But as Nicola Blackwood says, you have a very good and strong relationship with the internet providers.

Peter Davies: Yes.

Q27 Chair: Why are we not asking them to do more to remove these indecent images of children from the internet? They seem to have no responsibility for any of this. They put it out there but they are not actually doing anything, are they?

Peter Davies: The service providers can obviously speak for themselves. If I paraphrase what many of them would say, it would be that they are not responsible for what goes on in their pipework, they just provide the pipework-if I can use a plumbing analogy. I do not really buy that entirely; I think they have some level of corporate and social responsibility. We have quite a good relationship operationally with many of the organisations that we might have in mind. Where there are things they can do to help, within the law and within their own legislation in the home country in which they are based, they are quite amenable to doing that. If you had some of these service providers here, they would talk you through some of the difficulties of actually taking that level of control. I think it is important to emphasise that these are not people who demonstrate no moral standing at all; every service provider is different, and the extent to which they are prepared to take steps is different and we have to deal with them on an individual basis.

Q28 Steve McCabe: Can I ask about the question of resources? You touched on it by saying you have to cut your cloth. What is the position? Do you have broadly adequate resources to deter and detect offences against children, or are you woefully ill-equipped?

Peter Davies: We ourselves, as a centre, have a pretty stable resourcing situation. We are subject to the CSR and what we have been able to do through a modernisation process is actually increase the number of people in the centre while taking on board a modest budget cut. The wider issue is that we do everything we do as a centre through a range of other partners. Any member of a police force is potentially one of our partners in protecting children. We have 70,000 or 80,000 volunteers in classrooms who take our education products and deliver them to children. Within the centre, our resourcing was never designed to be adequate to take on the whole problem. I think it is adequate to take an approach to the problem in the way we are currently doing. I look forward to the extent to which the National Crime Agency gives us new opportunities to engage more resources from the agency when necessary to mount some more operations. I think the key to the success that CEOP does have is in our understanding that the effect we deliver is generally through other people, which places the emphasis less on what our budget figure is-although it is still important to have a minimum-but actually far more on the quality of the relationships we have, the synergies we can realise and the extent to which we can persuade other people to get involved in our business as well.

Q29 Steve McCabe: So CEOP, for what it does, is adequately resourced. Were you hinting there that the cuts these other people-the other police forces and education services-are receiving are going to make it more difficult for them to do the extra part of the work?

Peter Davies: No, I was not hinting that.

Steve McCabe: I wanted to understand.

Peter Davies: I understand the question, I welcome the question. The observation I make on that is that I regularly check in with a network I have of heads of public protection units in police forces up and down the country, asking them what is happening and the extent to which austerity is affecting them. Very reassuringly, the general message I get is actually that resources are being upheld and re-thought in terms of how they are used within public protection, and it seems to me as if public protection and the protection of children is still something the police service is keen to hold up regardless of austerity. That is the general picture, so it is quite encouraging.

Q30 Steve McCabe: Okay, thanks. Can I ask one last thing? I read somewhere that the budget for the National Cyber Security Programme is about £650 million, of which approximately £65 million goes to the Home Office to deal with online offences. Is that the right balance?

Peter Davies: That is a very difficult question for me to answer.

Q31 Steve McCabe: Well, in your opinion?

Peter Davies: In my opinion, given what the money is for and knowing how it has been spent, the part that has been allocated to the Home Office is fine. Cyber-crime is like many other aspects of what I deal with; you could invest any amount of money in it, and if the overall pot is £65 million, and your question is, "Well, is it right to apportion a certain amount to the Home Office?" I have no reason to think it is not, and I have seen some of the benefits that it has delivered. But if you are in the business of child protection, there is always more to be done than the resources will allow, however much you have, and we have to prioritise, work smart, make the best of our partnerships and make the best use of the resources we do have.

Steve McCabe: Okay, thank you.

Q32 Nicola Blackwood: I wanted to follow up on your answer to the Chairman on the issue of what you do when you find a very disturbing image online of a child who is clearly being abused, and exactly how you follow that up and gather evidence to an offence because clearly you do not know where that child is or where the offender is. It is quite a simple question, but could you walk the Committee through that so we could understand your process?

Peter Davies: Nowadays, we get about 1,500 referrals a month to CEOP, some of which will be the kind of pictures that you talk about. We open them, record them, risk assess them within 48 hours and decide whether, firstly, they portray a child being at risk and, secondly, what initial investigative steps are required. I am consciously slipping into my next Committee, but let me just take the opportunity to tell you how important it is that there is proper retention of and access to communications data to enable us to do that work.

Moving on from that, it depends how difficult it is to identify the child. I have known of cases-one of which came to fruition recently-where we tried just about everything to identify a child. We finally managed to do it, found the geographic location, passed the intelligence on to the local police force who did a really good intervention that safeguarded at least two or three children and will doubtless result in some prosecution in the future.

Each image is different. Some of them have been in circulation for some time, in which case our job is to know who has already had it. But we keep these images and we examine them and look at their usage for any sign-any opportunity to identify the child depicted. Some of the lengths to which to some of the team go is quite extraordinary. It is probably not for the public domain, but if the Committee has an opportunity to visit, then you will see some of that for yourselves.

Q33 Nicola Blackwood: Do you think that there is a need for legislative changes, other than on the communications data that you already mentioned, in order to enable you to effectively prosecute in this area? Are there any gaps?

Peter Davies: If there was one piece of legislation that would help us, it would be the retention of and access to communications data on an organised basis. Anything else is at a long distant second level of importance. There are some ways in which the legislation that, for example, enables preventive orders to be put in place for sex offenders could be changed, because the current array of opportunities is not hugely well used and does not always follow the people who pose the biggest risk. I think the legislation is pretty adequate for the job; there are not any glaring gaps. It might be worth looking at whether we should seek to criminalise what you could call the written word that is clearly paedophilic and predatory in nature, in the same way as we criminalise child abuse imagery and virtual images of children. That is one area in the online world where the legislation could be improved but, mark my words, it would be nothing like as important as making sure that we get communications data back to identify victims and offenders, which is currently, to some extent, a lottery. That is the big game at the moment, and it is really important to understand the relevance of that to child protection.

Nicola Blackwood: Okay, thank you.

Chair: I am sure you will continue that at the next Committee.

Peter Davies: Indeed.

Chair: For which you are very late at the moment.

Peter Davies: Good heavens. So I am.

Q34 Chair: Mr Davies, thank you for coming in. One final thought, as this inquiry goes on, we are concerned by the lack of co-ordination and it may well be that CEOP ends up in the NCA as doing more than just online protection.

Peter Davies: Yes.

Q35 Chair: We have heard some very good witnesses throughout this inquiry but it still lacks that one central point. In a very brief answer, do you think that is right-that we need to move in this way? We have 43 forces doing different things, with different expertise, the Human Trafficking Centre, SOCA doing its bit or the NCA doing its bit. There you have a degree of expertise that is unrivalled in your organisation. Maybe this is the way forward.

Peter Davies: Yes. We already go beyond the online, and actually group-related child sexual exploitation is one of the five priorities for the centre this year. Whether the national leadership comes through ACPO, or through a CEOP command with the National Crime Agency, greater coherence and clearer leadership are things that would be usefully brought to bear on the situation. From my point of view, the NCA and the national coordination tasking model provides a useful model through which that might be done.

Chair: Sure. Mr Davies, thank you very much for coming today.

Peter Davies: My pleasure, thank you very much.

Prepared 29th July 2013