UK’s internet guardian ‘sets standard’ for hotlines worldwide


A unique British charity, which hunts down and removes online child sexual abuse images and videos, has won praise for outstanding good practice from a top EU assessor for its global work with law enforcement and the internet industry to remove tens of thousands of horrific images each year.

Charity praised as global leader in fighting ‘horrific’ child sexual abuse imagery

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) was assessed during a two-day visit to its Cambridge base. The appraisal by INHOPE, a global collaboration of hotlines working against online child abuse, reviewed the charity’s relationship with government, law enforcement and child welfare agencies, together with care for staff,  internet security and  data management.

The INHOPE report says: “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.”

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO said: “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.”  

One of the first to congratulate the IWF on its star rating was the Home Office minister, who recently visited the IWF’s operation.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said:“I have seen first-hand the hugely important work that the Internet Watch Foundation carries out to remove these horrific images from the Internet.

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

The IWF has a unique role in proactively identifying and removing illegal child sexual abuse imagery online. It works in partnership to disrupt offenders who use the online environment to distribute and share these disturbing images and videos.

INHOPE is an active and collaborative global network of Hotlines, committed to stamping out child sexual abuse from the Internet. INHOPE Member Hotlines offer the public a way of anonymously reporting Internet material including child sexual abuse material they suspect to be illegal. The Hotline will ensure that the matter is investigated and if found to be illegal the information will be passed to the relevant Law Enforcement Agency and in many cases the Internet Service Provider hosting the content.  

To read more information, click here.

IWF is an international charity working to make the internet a safer place by minimising the availability of online child sexual abuse videos and images.

IWF (Internet Watch Foundation)