Charity Awards 2024

Internet Watch Foundation

Analysing the internet for child sexual abuse material

Child sexual abuse material is a global problem, with images and videos being shared at an increasingly alarming rate. IWF says its team of hotline content analysts have one of the hardest jobs in the world – seeking, viewing, assessing and arranging for the removal of such material.

These analysts never forget that such content features a real child suffering real abuse. Not only do they have to live with the memory of the abuse itself, they also know that at anytime, anywhere, others could also be looking at the images.

When IWF was established in 1996, the UK was responsible for hosting 18 per cent of the world’s child sexual abuse imagery. Today the figure is less than 1 per cent but IWF continues to work with a host of partners around the world to lead the fight.

To tackle the problem more effectively, in 2018 IWF increased investment in training and welfare support for its analysts, allowing them to be more effective in removing content. Due to the extreme nature of the material they see daily, they are uniquely supported in a variety of ways. The charity also continually invests in new technologies that help it find material and prevent it from being shared.

2018 saw the IWF hotline assess more reports of images or videos of child sexual abuse than any previous year. Throughout the year analysts assessed a webpage every two minutes. Almost 230,000 reports were assessed, with an overwhelming 105,047 URLs being confirmed as containing child sexual abuse material – an increase of 31 per cent on the previous year. On ten occasions IWF provided law enforcement agencies with intelligence it believed could help rescue a child.

Awards judge Jehangir Malik said the work of IWF was “very timely, in a horrific area which is otherwise uncharted in the charity space”. Both Mandy Johnson and Martin Edwards were impressed by the strong psychological support the charity provided to its staff.

CC reg no: 1112398

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