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Our podcast: Pixels from a Crime Scene

In this podcast, the Internet Watch Foundation lifts the lid on the global scandal of countless child sexual abuse images and videos being shared on the open web every day.

The investigation begins here.

The screen goes dark for a second. The room is in shadow. Somewhere, a child is crying. 

Our podcast tells, for the very first time, the story of online child sexual abuse through the words of victims, the people fighting to eradicate it, law enforcement, internet companies and, even perpetrators. Pixels from a Crime Scene delves into this clandestine world, shining a spotlight on what really goes on online and why images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children are still spreading across the open web.

Pixels from a Crime Scene starts a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversation. One that no one wants to have, but that empowers listeners and protects children from abuse and exploitation.

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Episode 1: There's no such thing as child pornography

A young man closes his laptop. He checks his phone. He ties his trainers. He’s on his way out to meet some mates. He is also a sexual predator.

He is part of a “new generation” of online abusers, with police warning that more and more 18 to 25 year-old men in the UK are viewing child abuse online and even “directing” the abuse of children.

In this episode of Pixels from a Crime Scene, host Angela Young meets Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, Fred Langford, the IWF’s Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Technical Officer, Simon Bailey, the National Police Chief Councils’ (NPCC) lead on child protection, and John Carr OBE, Internet Safety and Security Consultant.

She looks at the realities facing those leading the fight against the criminals who view, share and even trade child sexual abuse imagery online, and confronts us with some uncomfortable truths about the changing face of online abusers.

Episode 2: It's not just an image 

It’s a global industry, and it preys on children.

A young girl is online. She makes a friend, and soon they’re chatting, making jokes together and having a good time.

But that friend is not who they say they are. Soon, the girl is being terrorised, coerced, bullied, and blackmailed into sending explicit images of herself to the stranger. All from her own bedroom in the family home.

And then it gets worse.

In this episode of Pixels from a Crime Scene, we talk to Rhiannon, a survivor of child sexual abuse, who was groomed by a predator on the internet when she was just 13. We expose how criminals are luring young victims into dangerous situations, and ask how safe are our children online?

Episode 3: If you're watching, you're an offender

The problem we are facing is staggering. Some experts warn 1% of the entire male population could have an interest in sex with prepubescent children.

But what do you do when that problem is in your very own home? When someone you know is watching children being raped, tortured and sexually abused online? Someone you had trusted?

In this episode of Pixels from a Crime Scene, we hear how addiction to criminal material tears families apart. We see how there is no such thing as a victimless crime where online child sexual abuse material is concerned, and how those viewing images and videos are complicit in the most horrendous abuse of innocent children.

Episode 4: It's not all on the dark web 

So, you think videos and pictures of children being sexually abused and raped only exist on the dark web? Think again.

The epidemic of criminal content is out there on the open internet. It’s being shared in apps we all use and can be found on sites where we all think everyone is safe.

In this episode of Pixels from a Crime Scene, we hop on plane. From the Netherlands to the USA we follow the digital thread and see how sometimes the worst crimes are being perpetrated out in the open, sometimes in plain sight.

Episode 5: The industry can't solve it alone

Behind the screen, a battle is raging. You can’t see it. You may not even know it’s taking place. That’s the point.

The Internet Watch Foundation works hard to make sure you never see some of the worst images of children being sexually abused. Every day, they see these videos, and they fight to get them taken down, and they work with governments, businesses, and law enforcement all around the world to make sure criminals have no place to hide.

But could things be about to get worse?

In this episode of Pixels from a Crime Scene, we explore what tech companies are doing in the global battle against child sexual abuse material, and how new online encryption could expose millions more to some of the worst material on the internet.

Episode 6: It's not too big a problem to solve

You shut down the laptop and watch the screen go black. What we’ve learned together has been shocking.

But the criminals haven’t won. Far from it.

Where there are the worst crimes, there is also the strongest resolve. While we see appalling abuse, we know there is also hope.

In this, the final episode of Pixels from a Crime Scene, we set our sights on the future.

A new, talented tech-savvy generation could hold the key to making the internet safe again for everyone, while an “army of digital detectives” could turn the tide against those who would exploit and abuse children. It is already happening.

The Internet Watch Foundation is leading the charge to rid the internet of child sexual abuse material, and it is not alone. We know we can only do this if governments, companies, charities, law enforcement, and people all work together.

We know it is possible. We know we can do it.

Bonus Episode 7: It can happen in any home

Parents think their children are safe. At home, in their own bedrooms, with loving families around them, how could they possibly fall victim to sexual predators? 

But there is an open door into children’s lives. Criminals are reaching out and ensnaring their victims with nothing more than an internet connection. It can happen in any home.  

This new bonus episode of the Pixels from a Crime Scene podcast from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) throws a spotlight on the growing threat of “self-generated child sexual abuse material” where children have been groomed and coerced by adult perpetrators into performing sexually over webcams. This bonus episode takes a look at the phenomenon with interviews from police and investigators, experts, victims, and the analysts trying to get this material off the internet.

Police experts talk candidly about the investigation into King’s Lynn roofer David Wilson who was, last year, jailed after posing as teenage girls online to extort sexual images of victims and their friends and siblings.

The episode also delves into the motivations and psychology of perpetrators, as well as from a survivor of abuse who talks about the impact of this kind of coercion on victims.

The fight to remove child sexual abuse material from the internet is a global one, and the podcast also looks at some of the technological breakthroughs which are helping in the fight to keep the internet safe.

If you haven't listened to the first six episodes of Pixels from a Crime Scene we strongly recommend starting at episode one.   

If you've suffered sexual abuse, know someone who has or would like to find out more, the following organisations can provide help, advice and assistance:

  • If you're worried about a child who may be suffering abuse, you can contact the NSPCC who offer advice and support and a safe place to report child abuse.
  • The Marie Collins Foundation support children and families who have suffered sexual abuse via the internet.
  • If you're troubled by sexual thoughts about children and young people Stop It Now from The Lucy Faithfull Foundation offer confidential support and advice.
  • The UK Safer Internet Centre provide online safety tips, advice and resources to help children and young people stay safe online.
  • The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) is a charity offering support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.
  • Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. They're available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 for free or visit their website.
  • If you see images or videos online and suspect a child under the age of 18 is suffering sexual abuse, report it simply and anonymously to the IWF here.

If a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999 straight away.

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