Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220
WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2007
Q220 Earl of Erroll:
Can I just say this was not an attack on the police or the police
involved or you yourself at all. It is perfectly possible, given
the technology involved and the complexity of the way some things
would be accessed, that mistakes can be made, particularly as
this was a new area for many of the investigating police so therefore
it is quite possible that these things could have happened. A
very quick question then, there was no other sort of pornography
on that website, it is purely child pornography? I have never
visited it so I do not know.
Mr Gamble: I am glad because we would have met
under other circumstances perhaps! Let me be very clear here.
Without going into too much technical detail, which I think would
be unhelpful, was there ever a doubt about a particular aspect
of a particular part of Landslide? Yes. Were they ever pursued
or prosecuted? No. So where we identified in that investigation
a doubt we then took action to make sure that those individuals
were removed from that cloud of suspicion. The difficulty here
is we understand, and we understood at the time, you cannot make
this allegation and then withdraw it easily and put somebody's
life back together. We understand that and that is why there is
a lot of due diligence and that is why it takes a lot of time.
Q221 Earl of Erroll:
Is there possibly going to be a problem with the amount of credit
card theftidentity theft as people have re-named itthat
is going on at the moment? Is that going to be an increasing problem
in future investigations firstly making sure that the credit card
details were not stolen?
Mr Gamble: We never prosecute someone simply
on the basis of their credit card being used. You are going to
look at all of the circumstantial evidence which when taken together
provides overwhelming evidence. No, I do not think so and I also
think that the pay-per-view industry is moving away from the simple
credit card transaction. We are looking at other mechanisms whereby
they can hide the activity they are involved in. So I do not think
that that will be a problem in the future.
Q222 Lord Mitchell:
I was interested in your view on the emerging threats to child
safety, for instance as a result of the extension of connectivity
to an ever-wider range of devices. By that I am sure we mean mobile
phones, wi-fi connected iPods, devices like that.
Mr Gamble: It does not matter what the technology
is. We need to move away from looking at the apparatus that actually
delivers it, whether it is the mobile phone that is the brick
or the new one that you can listen to your music on and also get
onto the Internet and check the football scores with. What this
is about is the threat that will emerge which is one of ignorance
and perhaps arrogance on behalf of the Police Service and others
in positions of responsibility where we assume that we have done
enough and where we assume that children know enough. I go back
to what I said before, I believe the best way of dealing with
the emerging threat is through education. It is through engaging
with children and actually listening to them. The youth panel
work that we are doing, listening to academia, listening to young
people about the way they occupy this new space and capitalise
upon it in a way that helps them identify what the risks are and
helps them contribute to the solution. 30 per cent of the reports
we receive in the Centre are not about the technologies themselves
and are not about something that industry creates; they are actually
about the way children behave in that particular environment where
they are given scope. It is about some of the self-generated content
that they will share with others, and that is about education.
That is about what you talked about earlier, talking to parents.
A parent may not understand what a social networking site is.
A social networking site is a fantastic place for young people
to keep in touch when they go to university with their friends
at home and elsewhere. Some criminal element will try and take
advantage of it. I ask you this and I say this to parents: would
you allow your child to wear a billboard or sandwich board, or
whatever you want to call it, with their home telephone number,
all of their personal details on it, and some handout photographs
that they would walk from Victoria Station down to Oxford Street
with whilst every Tom, Dick and Harry in the street could see
them? You would not. That is about educating people and simplifying
and demystifying the aspects of technology that we tend to lean
towards in these debates.
Q223 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
You mention that because of international co-operation you can
now have 24/7 sharing of a lot of the monitoring. How much further
do you think you need to go in this area of international co-operation?
Mr Gamble: We need to build on the Virtual Global
Task Force partnership because one of the questions about the
numbers involved means that the long arm is able to be that much
longer. I can say, without divulging too much, that we are currently
investigating hundreds of suspects in on-line environments at
present who are trying to access children because of that partnership.
I believe Italy will be full members within a short period of
time. We are working through the G8 initiative and those infrastructures
that are already available to see how we can expand. The key in
the next phase of development is going to be engaging countries
that are not as technologically advanced as we and some of our
partners are and recognising that what we see here are symptoms
of crimes, and the root cause sometimes in their jurisdictions,
and we need to support them build an infrastructure that means
they can play a full part.
Q224 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
Are you getting the co-operation from all of the countries that
are as technically advanced as we are? Are other countries within,
say, the EU that have fairly sophisticated IT environments all
playing their part or are there still some people who perhaps
are not as conscious of the nature of the problem?
Mr Gamble: I think there are some places that
are not as conscious but everybody plays a part in protecting
their own children. I have been involved in my career in many
types of crime ranging from terrorism to organised criminality
and I have not been involved in any area where you get such a
degree of enthusiasm and willingness by agencies, voluntary and
government, in jurisdictions because protecting children is something
that everybody can relate to. We do need to get better at it and
some individual states need to recognise that they cannot protect
their own children within their own geographic boundaries. The
partnership needs to rise above that.
Q225 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
If you think about it, the creation of CEOP is in itself a recognition
that this is a particular type of crime, but is there still a
danger or are we still in the position where this form of crime
is seen as part of the general e-crime agenda?
Mr Gamble: I think there is a danger that it
is seen as part of that and we would not want it to be perceived
as such. I think the label e-crime is unhelpful. E-crime should
relate to those new crimes which are truly facilitated by the
technologythe phishing and those types of attacks that
you will see perhaps. From my point of view, and I was previously
the Deputy Director-General of the National Crime Squad and I
have some experience with the build of the National High-Tech
Crime Centre, the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre
is about protecting children, it is not about the technology.
The technology assists us and we use it to positive effect but
I would not want the work that we do to be seen as e-crime.
Q226 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
In the international context does that position prevail as well?
What you said holds good for the UK but is it the case across
the forces with whom you are in most close contact?
Mr Gamble: No, it is not the case. In some areas
I think they are moving to that more holistic approach. We have
had visits from other jurisdictions from some other parliaments
to look at the UK experiment with CEOP and that has been extremely
positive. Our colleagues in America through the National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children again are focusing on the child
aspect and bringing technology to bear as a constructive tool,
but no, it is not recognised, and one of the problems with technology
is everybody always defaults to it. The technology itself is not
relevant. It is like trying to place a certain crime in a particular
geography. It is about how we capitalise on the techniques that
allow us to protect our children because very often technology
will be used to lure a child from the virtual world into the real
world and if you divide the way you deal with that then you undermine
Q227 Lord Howie of Troon:
You mentioned the United States a moment ago. We are told that
more than half of child abuse image websites are hosted in the
United States. What is being done about that over there?
Mr Wright: I think it is fair to say that despite
best efforts and the sophisticated tracing techniques used by
the IWF it is not always possible to be categoric about where
a site is hosted. A lot of websites, particularly the commercial
ones, move frequently between jurisdictions as part of their efforts
to avoid disruption or detection. This is a subject that the UK
Government and agencies continue to raise with other governments,
including the US, for example, through the G8 where justice and
home affairs ministers gave a commitment to redoubling our efforts
to combat the availability of these images. It is always difficult
to judge other countries' approaches but the US Government over
the last few years is attaching increasing priority to this issue.
Nearly a year ago it launched its Project Safe Childhood to enhanced
its national response to "combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated
sexual exploitation crimes against children". The project
brings together federal resources, NGOs, and state and local law
enforcement through a national network of Internet Crimes Against
Children Task Forces with additional federal funding. The project
includes integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate
against individual people exploiting children, better community
awareness, better education and better training for law enforcement
and has led to every law enforcement agency developing significant
operation initiatives against child exploitation. The US House
of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce conducted
recently a hearing on "Making the Internet safe for kids:
the role of ISPs and social networking sites", which has
looked in detail at the hosting of images in the US and taken
evidence from ISPs and NCMEC about this issue. Additionally, the
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has begun sharing
the signatures of known child protection images with ISPs so those
ISPs can start to eliminate the individual images from their systems.
In summary, a lot of images are still hosted in the US but we
are starting to see from the US Government a different and a much
stronger approach to attacking it.
Q228 Lord Howie of Troon:
Our Government presumably is encouraging the United States to
deal with this?
Mr Wright: Absolutely. I have seen it on a number
of occasions. It is diplomacy and you can only encourage but we
have been encouraging them for longer than I have been in this
job and we are starting to see action on the ground.
Q229 Lord Howie of Troon:
How long have you been in the job?
Mr Wright: I have been in this job for nearly
Q230 Lord Howie of Troon:
Are there any other blackspots apart from the United States?
Mr Wright: In terms of hosting of images, it
moves around quite a lot. Russia sometimes and increasingly Japan
and Spain now are part of the problem, but I think there is a
danger in focusing too much on in which country the server is
where the images are because it is trivial to host any form of
website in any country around the world, and moving it is $30
and half an hour's work. These sites will always be moved to the
places where they think it is the safest for them, where the ISPs
will provide less information to law enforcement, so even if all
four countries identified changed overnight, in terms of people
accessing the images there would be no disruption because the
images will all be hosted in four different countries. I think
it is about building co-operation globally, it is about attacking
the people behind the images, the companies putting the images
up, and most people are not based in the countries in which the
website is hosted. The other thing which we have done in the UK
very strongly is looking with the ISPs at blocking access to images
wherever in the world an image is hosted. The majority of large
UK ISPs will now block access to images wherever they are hosted
because while we have pretty much eradicated the hosting of these
websites within the UK they were still as accessible to UK residents
as they were before, so what the UK ISPs have done is said, "You
tell us where these images are and we will block access to those
images wherever in the world they are," so even if those
four countries cleaned up their act and it is four different countries
next week, people in the UK will find it harder to access those
Q231 Lord Howie of Troon:
In records, does the style and taste of the images depend on the
country from which they come?
Mr Wright: No. I do not think there is a difference
between the country from which the image comes and the country
where it is hosted, but colleagues have more knowledge about the
Mr Gamble: Let us be clear, to adopt a position
whereby we were to suggest that the United States was in some
way well behind everyone else would be fundamentally unfair. The
vast majority of the Internet infrastructure is based in the US,
so the key word here is that a majority of those sites will "appear"
to be hosted in the US, and I think technically we need to be
very careful what we say there, they will appear to be hosted
in the US. Images will be the same. They will be horrific and
that is why we in the UK are very positive about not using the
term "child pornography". We do not believe that what
we are talking about is child pornography. Pornography is something
which, depending upon your moralistic view, may be legal or not.
This is not about consenting adults performing an act for the
gratification of a third party on payment. This is about children
as young as weeks old, sometimes unfortunately even younger than
that, up to their early teens where they are physically abused
in the most horrible sense by adult males. One of the things I
find most disturbing, and we see a lot of images to put this in
context, is a young teenage girl in a video we currently are working
on who talks as if she is a 40-year-old prostitute. That child
has been so badly treated and so heavily indoctrinated into the
darker side of producing these types of images that she now behaves
in a way that you would imagine if you were looking at it for
the first time, that she was somehow complicit, but she has been
victimised over so many years. The US in many senses has led the
field in some of the initiatives it has brought together, partnering
with industry. When we built the Child Exploitation and On-Line
Protection Centre, we looked at the model of the National Centre
of Missing Exploited Children to see how they did what they did
and how we could apply the best parts of that here in the UK.
They are active partners, they are members of the Virtual Global
Task Force. On Monday of next week, an agent from the Department
of Homeland Security will begin in the Child Exploitation and
On-Line Protection Centre here, a physical manifestation of that
partnership. We work in close partnership with them and we are
able to use the technology to make that partnership a day-to-day
exchange of information.
Q232 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
You mentioned what you thought would be desirable in incorporating
Internet safety in the National Curriculum. The impression I got
was, therefore, that it seems a somewhat patchy process at the
moment. Is Internet safety covered in the school curriculum in
any organised way and at what age do the signals start being sent,
Mr Wright: There is flexibility in the ICT programme
of study to include teaching about Internet safety to pupils.
Schools are encouraged to integrate e-safety messages across the
curriculum and implement policies and safe practices on Internet
use, and teachers are provided with the resources to reinforce
responsible use of the Internet. The Qualifications and Curriculum
Authority have adapted ICT schemes of work and guidance to strengthen
the message about Internet safety. DfES have worked with the QCA
and Becta on developing resources and guidance for schools, for
example, under the Internet Proficiency Scheme, and the `Signposts
to Safety' publication provides advice on teaching Internet safety
at Key Stage 3, which is 11- to 14-year-olds and Key Stage 4,
which is 14- to 19-year-olds. The scheme is a specific way of
developing safe and discriminating behaviours when using the Internet.
Q233 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
So it does not start until the age of 11?
Mr Wright: It can be taught earlier. It can
be fitted into the curriculum there, but I do not think that it
is taught at every school.
Q234 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
At the moment you are saying it is taught through the medium of
the subject ICT and it is not taught as children are learning
to use computers, as they are, at primary school? It does not
seem to be happening there. It may well be happening, but it is
not happening in any organised way. Is that right?
Mr Wright: It is taught as part of ICT, but
it is up to individual schools and it is not taught across the
Mr Gamble: It is not sufficiently well indoctrinated
into the National Curriculum and it needs to be part of the personal,
social and health education programme as integrated into everyday
lessons about child safety. If it is dealt with as an isolated
specialism, it will be delivered or not delivered and listened
to or not listened to. We are working at the minute on a secondary
programme which targets children between the ages of 11 and 12
and 15 and 16. Those are the ones that Ofcom say to us are most
likely to have on-line access in their bedrooms or in private.
That is this year, a school-year programme. The next one we are
looking at, and we are working with all of the partners you would
imagine here, is looking at how we engage primary education. Beverley
Hughes visited the centre and we met with her officials and, as
I said earlier, they are now actively seeking to employ a full-time
member of the DfES to work within our education team so that we
can further indoctrinate this in a sensible way.
Q235 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
You have the target of reaching a million schoolchildren. It has
been suggested to us by the children's charities that this is
rather ambitious, hugely ambitious in fact. Given the resources
at your disposal, are you confident that you will be able to achieve
Mr Gamble: It is an ambitious target and we
could never deliver it by and of ourselves. We are delivering
it by cascading. We have trained 1,355 different teachers, school
liaison officers, some librarians and some student teachers in
other places and, just as an aside, I think student teachers are
the people we need to be targeting most effectively in this area
because they are tomorrow's generation of schoolteachers. Those
1,355 cascade that information out into schools, so a member of
staff does not stand in every school, but those local police liaison
or local safeguarding body personnel or others who have a relationship
go out with the content which we have created and deliver it in
the way we have trained them to, so do I think we will make it?
Yes, I do. The way we are looking at it at the minute is that
nearly 400,000 packs have been delivered to particular schools
so far and we have until June, the end of the school year, and
I believe yes, it is a big target, but our website is getting
three million hits a month. We need to engage children in the
right way and in fact if you could say it was banned, we would
probably increase that to about 20 million hits a month.
Q236 Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan:
The National Education Network have said that they do not really
like the idea of devolving broadband funding to schools because
they think this would diminish the good work which has been done
on security and standards by the regional broadband consortia
and local authorities. What is your view on this? Should Whitehall
be intervening in setting standards so that this potential gap
Mr Gamble: Well, we work with those consortia
and I think that I have to give credit where credit is due and
say they have done a great job in a number of areas and we have
learnt a lot of lessons about that. I am not sure about the way
forward in that regard at all. We need to speak to them, we need
to engage with schools and it needs to be a collective discussion
that makes sure that, by simply moving from one process with the
broadband consortia to another, we do not undermine our ability
to deliver a safer infrastructure because that is what might happen
if it goes down to the individual school.
Mr Wright: I cannot answer that. It is DfES
We will have to cut it off there. Thank you very much for your
answers. I think it is very interesting listening to you; it reinforces
the view that, as you have said, technology is neutral and this
is largely a social problem. It is almost ironic to me that the
three-dimensional nature of a web means that we do not have fingerprints
on images which probably made the old world easier, did it not?
Mr Gamble: But we actually do have fingerprints.
But you really do not because you do not know where these images
have come from in general and it is almost impossible to trace
them back to the origin.
Mr Gamble: We can. Through the child-based technology
we have, we are able to take 750,000 images, run them through
our computer and it will tell us if we know these images or if
we do not know them. It will also give us the history of the images
that we know. What that does is prevent us from having to spend
valuable time in looking at old images so that we are not duplicating
effort, so we can fingerprint the image insofar as we can identify
it and re-identify it and it is that fingerprinting technology
in the IWF.
That is not what I meant by "fingerprinting". What I
meant was that each image would not contain a fingerprint from
the person who had sent it originally.
Mr Gamble: And where that does happen is in
the more modern digital photography where we are able to get that
information, but I accept entirely what you say. I wonder if I
could just ask you to bear with me and let me make the four recommendations
I wanted to make to you very quickly. The first one I would like
to see this Committee ask is that child protection be a national
policing priority in the National Policing Plan, and the fact
that it is not is a significant problem and I do not know why
it is not, but I think this Committee could perhaps bring some
focus to that. The second one is that Internet safety be a requirement
in the National Curriculum. The third one is that we have a requirement
on local safeguarding boards to have designated posts with responsibility
to co-ordinate Internet safety across children's services. The
fourth one is that you encourage the use of various types of blocking
technology to meet the requirements of protecting children, whilst
recognising the limitations of some of our industry partners.
Chairman: They are useful suggestions
and it is valuable evidence you have given to us and thank you