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News from the Internet Watch Foundation

24 April 2019

According to data released today by The Internet Watch Foundation, 105,047 URLs containing child sexual abuse imagery (CSAI) or videos were identified and blocked over the last year, an increase of more than a third on the year before.

The IWF have said that much of the increase was due to an improvement in the technology it uses to detect and assess criminal content.

Promisingly, they have also found that the proportion of images hosted in the UK is at its lowest level ever recorded- just 41 URLs, or 0.04% of the content it found and blocked was hosted from a UK address. This figure is significantly lower than 18%, when the IWF began operating in 1996.

However, this does not mean that the problem has reduced globally. Every five minutes, IWF analysts find the image or video of a child being sexually abused, and 4 out of 5 times this is hosted in a European country. Indeed, almost half (47%) of all the imagery found last year was discovered in the Netherlands.

The IWF tackles online child sexual abuse imagery as a global problem, which demands a global solution. To get rid of online images of child sexual abuse as quickly as possible, they work closely with partners worldwide in order to prevent child abuse across geographical borders. IWF has offered support to the Dutch organisation dealing with child sexual abuse imagery.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, said:

“Despite us removing more and more images than ever before, and despite creating and using some of the world’s leading technology, it’s clear that this problem is far from being solved.”

“The cause of the problem is the demand. Unfortunately, and as the police tell us often, there are 100,000 people sitting in the UK right now demanding images of the abuse of children. With this continued demand for images of child rape, it’s a constant battle.”

In response to the release of the Internet Watch Foundation’s latest figures, Tom Squire, clinical manager of The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s Stop It Now! helpline, said:

“Today’s figures make for difficult reading, but show the success the IWF is having in tackling the growing problem of online images of child sexual abuse. The IWF is a vital piece of the jigsaw of organisations and the public working together to effectively combat this global issue. But we all need to do more and find better ways of cutting both supply and demand to bring about a joined-up public health approach to prevention.

“Prevention is always better than cure, and so we have to do all we can to stop these illegal images from ever being made, to delete them wherever they exist, and to deter people from looking at them.

“The work of the IWF complements our Stop It Now! deterrence campaign, which aims to reduce the demand side of these illegal images and highlight the help available to stop looking at them. The public need to know that there are places they can turn in confidence if they see anything that worries them online, or if they’re concerned about their own behaviour.”

Anyone with concerns can call the Stop It Now! helpline on 0808 1000 900,  which aims to prevent child abuse by encouraging abusers and potential abusers to seek help and by giving adults the information they need to protect children safely.

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