Charity wins praise for its fight against online child abuse

The Internet Watch Foundation is told by global organisation INHOPE that it is setting the standard in the worldwide battle to remove online child sex abuse images and videos.

Joe Lepper | 24th Oct 18
Image shows a lock on a computer keyboard, representing a secure internet free from online child abuse.

A UK charity that identifies and removes online child abuse images and videos has been praised by a global body in the fight against the sexual exploitation of young people on the internet.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has been told by INHOPE, a global collaboration of hotlines that tackle online child abuse, that it sets a “high standard” in its work with police and the internet industry in removing thousands of such images and videos each year.

The praise follows a two-day visit to IWF’s Cambridge base in which the charity’s work with government, law enforcement and child welfare agencies was reviewed. The assessment also looked at the charity’s data management, internet security and care for staff.

INHOPE’s report on the IWF states: “The IWF maintains exceptional standards in all areas and its practices can be recommended to new or existing hotlines wishing to develop or expand their services.

“Not only does the IWF operate to an exceptionally high standard in the UK, but its operations and structure in many ways set the standard for other hotlines around the world. It was particularly impressive to gain insight into the adaptability and ongoing evolution of operational procedures at the IWF.”

Leading the fight against online child abuse

IWF Chief Executive Officer Susie Hargreaves added: “At the IWF, we’re constantly learning through experience and partnerships. When we began in 1996, 18 per cent of the world’s online child sexual abuse material was hosted in the UK. Today I’m happy to say that figure is less than one per cent.

“But the internet has no borders and nor has crime. Wherever they are in the world, we owe it to child victims of online abuse to do this job right. Our team of analysts in the Hotline works hard to locate, disrupt and remove images and videos as quickly as possible, always aware that these pictures show real children and their suffering is real.

“With help from key partners like the government, global law enforcement, some of the biggest names in the internet business and of course the public, who report suspect sites to us, we are in a unique position to take a lead in fighting this abuse.”

IWF has the support of the global internet industry and the European Commission and offers the public the chance to report images and videos anonymously and confidentially.

Among those to congratulate IWF is crime, safeguarding and vulnerability minister Victoria Atkins.

“I have seen first-hand the hugely important work that the Internet Watch Foundation carries out to remove these horrific images from the Internet,” Atkins said.

“They are an important partner for the government in tackling online child sexual abuse and I am pleased others recognise its vital contribution.”