Examination of Witnesses (Questions 197
WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2007
Welcome everybody, particularly our witnesses today. I would like
to welcome Mr Wright back and Mr Gamble and Miss Girling, and
welcome members of the public who are attending this session.
There is a document available that describes this inquiry. I am
Lord Broers and I am Chairman of the Committee. Everybody should
note that we are being webcast today, just for your information.
If we could start with our witnesses please introducing yourselves
and then, if you wish, making a short statement. Shall we start
with you Mr Wright?
Mr Wright: Good afternoon. My name is Tim Wright
from the Computer Crime Team in the Home Office.
Mr Gamble: My name is Jim Gamble and I am the
Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection
Centre and I am the Association of Chief Police Officers lead
for countering child abuse on the Internet.
Ms Girling: I am Sharon Girling and I am a Law
Enforcement Officer from SOCA and I work within CEOP.
Would you like to make an opening statement?
Mr Wright: Just briefly. The Internet offers
real educational and social benefits to children, as well as being
a source of entertainment and helping develop skills they will
need in the future. The Government is committed to ensuring that
they can exploit those benefits safely. To do this, the Home Secretary
set up in 2001 a Task Force to bring together Government, law
enforcement, industry and child protection organisations to work
on child protection on the Internet. That partnership approach
has been effective over those years and in that time has delivered
good practice for different companies that provide a variety of
on-line services: chat; moderated chat; instant messaging; web-based
services; and most recently social networking services. It has
very nearly delivered a BSI kitemark for products to help parents
manage how their children use the Internet. It has delivered training
packages for police, prison, probation and social work professionals.
It has delivered various public awareness campaigns aimed at parents
and children to identify the risks and provide practical advice
on how to manage them. The UK ISPs and the Internet Watch Foundation
have effectively ended the hosting of websites containing illegal
images of child abuse in the UK and the majority of the biggest
broadband and 3G mobile network operators have put in place technical
measures to stop UK customers accessing these websites when they
are hosted abroad. Obviously the biggest development over those
years has been the creation of CEOP which we will talk about.
The Government set up CEOP to build on that partnership approach
and to deliver a step change improvement in our operational capacity
to protect children.
Mr Gamble: I do not wish to add anything just
simply to associate myself with the comments that Mr Wright has
Ms Girling: And I the same.
We were told by the Government in November the importance of individuals
taking personal responsibility for their own Internet security.
Who is responsible for protecting children on the Internet?
Mr Wright: It is a shared responsibility in
exactly the way as off-line safety is, and that underlines part
of the partnership approach I mentioned. Obviously the Government
has an overarching responsibility to provide a framework of legislation
and agencies to ensure that everything possible is done. Law enforcement
and the National Offender Management Service have a responsibility
to reduce crime, to investigate offenders and to manage the risks
those offenders pose in the community. Any company or individual
providing a service to children has a responsibility to ensure
that their children can use that service safely. Finally parents
themselves and children have a responsibility to make sure they
are safe. As professionals, I think we have a responsibility to
help parents and children in this, through ensuring that on-line
services have clear links to safety advice and how to report abuse
but also by raising awareness of the risks and providing practical
advice. Over the last five years a number of organisations have
delivered awareness and advice both to parents and to children.
We have worked to ensure that these efforts are consistent and
complementary as well as running our own campaigns. While the
services that children use change over time, the three key underlying
messages remain the same. Firstly it is more difficult to check
out who you are talking to on-line than it is off-line and there
are people out there who will exploit that. This is particularly
important when children think about meeting on-line friends in
the real world. Secondly, personal information you give out or
a child gives out can then be used to contact them in a way later
on that they cannot then control. And finally parents need to
engage as much as they can in the way that their children use
the Internet, both to understand what the children are doing,
who they are talking to, but also so their child is more confident
in turning to their parents if something goes wrong.