Peter Davies is the Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre bringing with him over 20 years experience in front line and strategic policing roles.
Appointed to his role in November 2010, he joined CEOP from Lincolnshire Police where he had worked for many years in child protection, most recently as Assistant Chief Constable with particular responsibility for Protective Services.
This involved leading a number of national and international significant crime enquiries encompassing the distribution of indecent images of children, domestic extremism, fraud, and serious organised crime, including leading force involvement with CEOP’s expert teams as well as multi force deployments and other partners.
Today he spoke about the vital role of communications data in identifying and investigating serious criminal networks.
Peter Davies Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre said:
‘Having committed my working life to making people safer, and especially now as Head of CEOP (the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) and the police service’s national Lead on Child Protection, I’ve followed the media debate on proposals for retaining communications data with particular interest.
‘What strikes me is that the principles of this debate have been the same throughout my career. This is about the perpetual balance between freedom and the need for that freedom to be preserved and sustained by enabling those who protect the public to intrude where it’s necessary, proportionate and lawful.
‘What is new is the context. The way people communicate has undergone a wholesale revolution in the last ten years with the advent of the internet and all that it enables. That perpetual balance has already been defined in respect of longer established means of communication, such as post and telephone, and in the wider areas of physical surveillance and eavesdropping. If these more intrusive methods have already been debated, weighed up and legislated for, surely we can replicate this process for the retention of communications data?
‘Those who protect the public, including investigators, need to be given the tools to do so. These must be subject to sufficient protections and safeguards, of course - but I and my colleagues need the tools to do our job.
My own experience tells me that retaining communications data so that we can identify and investigate serious criminal networks is important. For example, some of the organised criminals who conspired to execute a retired couple in Lincolnshire in 2004 are walking free today because my investigation team who, against the odds, did manage to convict three of the group, couldn’t access all the data they needed.
‘These days I am painfully aware that we at CEOP are losing many chances to identify children at immense risk, and those who are a threat to them, for precisely the same reason. Analysing networks of child abusers enables us to prevent harm, protect children who are at severe risk and pursue their abusers. One such operation can net hundreds of offenders and protect their current and future victims.
‘Elected representatives are the right people to decide how to strike that perpetual balance, and decide what constraints, protections and safeguards are necessary. This is an issue that has awaited the leadership of Parliament for some time. I earnestly hope that legislative time will be created in the lifetime of this government so that we can keep up with how serious crime is now committed. The protection of many children depends on it.’