CEOP: Value For Money?
"...The restructuring would apparently also put paid to CEOP chief executive Jim Gamble's plans to take his organisation independent. It has so far been overseen by SOCA, but following lobbying the last government agreed to make it a non-departmental public body in its own right. Reports suggest that move is now off the agenda..."
CEOP have long required a reappraisal. Under NuLabour they prospered beyond their wildest dreams, encouraged by a succession of spineless, craven Home Secretarys, too blinkered to criticize, too weak to confront them on any of their increasingly hysterical (and publically unsubstantiated) utterances.
CEOP seemed to have perfected the art of opaque scaremongering, whilst enjoying, again under NuLabour, unique access to Parliament and the very process of law making. For instance, you can lay the blame for the existence of both the ridiculous 'extreme pr0n' and laughable-if-it-wasn't-so-spiteful 'cartoon pr0n' laws at CEOP's unashamed door - they were very vocal in their support for the new laws and present at all the Parliamentary consultations.
Last year, by their own admission, CEOP cost the UK taxpayer £12.5million (they also received cash and technical donations from their sponsors in the private sector). What exactly did the taxpayer get back for their tens of £millions over the past twelve months alone? Hmmm. They claim to have 'rescued' more children from harm ('safeguarded' is the current favorite buzzword). This year's figure for 'safeguarded' children is up on last year's (a brief look at previous CEOP annual reviews sees, unsurprisingly, the numbers steadily rising year-on-year).
Meanwhile, by their own admission, online CP - especially the 'commercial' kind - is on a steady, managed, decline. CEOP continue to lurk about in chat rooms and have a keen interest in torrents, P2P and social networking sites... in essence, they sense their job description evaporating (or at the very least metamorphosing) before their eyes, so the need to continually reinvent is paramount if they are not face budgetary extinction.
Hence, the announcement they are to become the UK's premier 'missing kids' agency. Oh - and just a small detail - they are also (possibly) to begin trialling polygraph (lie detector) tests at some indeterminate point in the near future. We're not told why, but left to wonder if anyone at CEOP will have the wit to put a 'Room 101' plaque on the door.
The only people to see real value in CEOP's continued existence are the tabloids and broadcast media, who seem to gleefully parrot everything the good Reverend Gamble seems to have to say on The Great Moral Panic without even a hint of irony. None of them seem to want to have a bad word said against the organisation. How very odd.
Coalition Ministers and their accountants are determined, it seems, to extract a little more 'value' from CEOP this time around. No doubt the dying days of the NuLabour administration saw CEOP attempt to manoeuvre itself into a more favorable position for it's own budgetary survival post-election, possibly in the foreknowledge that the years of unconditional public handouts were almost certain to come to an end once The Dear Leader and his Politburo got the heave-ho.