IWF expecting a sharp hike in online grooming

March 28, 2020

As more children use the internet at home, the IWF is anticipating an increase in online grooming reports

IWF expecting a sharp hike in online grooming

Experts from organisations including the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and Internet Matters are asking parents to be extra vigilant at home as children are spending increasing amounts of time online due to Covid-19.

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, recommends that parents should set limits on screen time and apply age appropriate settings that protect both children and devices.

“ Tech provides many fantastic opportunities at this time, giving children additional tools to learn, create, socialise and a place to have their downtime; however, as a child’s screen time increases, so does their chances of facing online risks… ” Carolyn Bunting, CEO, Internet Matters

Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive of the IWF said the organisation is anticipating a sharp increase in grooming reports and that about a third of the indecent images posted online have been child generated.  She also described that three quarters of the images are of children aged 11-13 and mostly female. 

“ We are bracing ourselves for a spike in reports. The pandemic is forcing more and more people to stay indoors, and a lot of people are going to be spending much more time on the internet and at home on electronic devices… ” Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive of the IWF

Thirteen analysts that work for the IWF analysed 260,400 reports in 2019 which was a 14% increase when compared to 2018.  Some staff are working from home due to the lockdown measures, however the service remains functional and staff are operating the hotline reporting service as normal.

Internet Matters is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to empower both children and parents so they can use the internet safely.  Internet Matters lists the following organisations as industry partners: BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin, Google and BBC.  

The IWF is the organisation that is responsible for both locating and removing indecent images and videos of children.  The IWF consists of 140 companies including global tech giants: Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft to name but a few.

The IWF link to report indecent imagery is: https://report.iwf.org.uk/en