Ex-child protection chief warning over CEOP merger
The former head of the the UK's child protection agency has attacked plans to remove its independence.
Under a government shake-up, the stand-alone Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) Centre is being incorporated into a new national crime-fighting organisation.
Ceop's chief executive Jim Gamble, who quit in October after the change was announced, described it as a "mistake for child protection".
Mr Gamble told The Times: "I would rather resign now and highlight what I believe is a mistake for child protection than find myself resigning in two or three years' time because something had gone horribly wrong and we'd made serious errors.
"It's become less important to save kids than to save face.
"Ceop works because it is about child protection first and foremost, but I'm afraid it is being dragged back into the blue serge of policing.
"When I asked why that was happening I was met by ambiguities and rhetoric which I regard as nothing more than spin."
One of the centre's latest tasks is investigating the prevalence of street grooming gangs, a case highlighted by the conviction last week of two men who abused several girls.
Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were jailed at Nottingham Crown Court for raping and sexually abusing their victims, often after giving them alcohol or drugs.
Former home secretary Jack Straw sparked a backlash after claiming the case was evidence of a specific problem among young men in the UK's Pakistani community.
Ceop was set up in 2006 tasked with tracking online paedophiles and bringing them to court.
It is currently affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).
But under the Government's plans the agency will become part of a greater National Crime Agency in 2013.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "Child protection will always be an absolute priority for this government and we value the important work carried out by Ceop.
"We want to ensure that its vital role continues and flourishes.
"We are discussing with the new chief executive how Ceop could further develop and thrive if it were to form part of the new National Crime Agency."
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
The man who sold Minecraft to Microsoft for £2.5 billion says it's made him miserable
Nazi 'gold train': Fire engulfs suspected location of vehicle in Poland
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- 1 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 4 A Chinese journalist has appeared on state television 'confessing' to causing the stock market chaos
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night