Organising a world-class Hotline

IWF Hotline Manager, Tamsin McNally

IWF Hotline Manager Tamsin McNally


When people visit the IWF offices on the outskirts of Cambridge, they’re often keen to see inside the Hotline to help them understand how our teams of people are organised.  

The Hotline is organised into three teams, all with different skills: Internet Content Analysts, Image Classification Assessors and Quality Assurance Officers. 

Working between 8am and 4pm, the Internet Content Analysts (often referred to as ‘analysts’) are made up of 13 people. They respond to public reports; they proactively search for images of child sexual abuse; they undertake specific project work to stay on top of new trends; and they make sure the criminal content is removed from the internet. 

The Image Classification Assessors are a Taskforce of 12 who work shorter hours due to the intense nature of their very specific role. Starting from 9.30am and leaving by 2.30pm, their role is to assess images, adding extra metadata to each image such as the age of the child depicted, as well as the type of sexual activity that is happening to them in addition to other information. Once they have added the data, a hash or “digital fingerprint” is created. These hashes are then used to prevent the upload, download and further dissemination of this child sexual abuse image by our industry partners.  

The role of our Quality Assurance team is to act as a critical friend from within the Hotline. The team of five are deliberately line managed by a different IWF Director to the rest of the Hotline and they ensure the work of the Hotline is held to the highest standards. They check for accuracy and consistency of assessments, and they track trends and training needs to ensure the IWF remains a trusted and world-leading organisation. 

The analysts and the assessors in the Taskforce work closely: when an analyst finds an image of child sexual abuse and downloads it, the assessors then assess, grade and hash the image (adding the additional metadata). A member of the Quality Assurance team may then check the details attached to that image for accuracy and consistency. The image is uploaded into the UK Home Office’s Child Abuse Image Database, and the hash is made available on our Hash List. The analyst will work to make sure the image is being removed from the internet. At the same time, those who take our Hash List, URL List and other services are preventing ordinary members of the public from stumbling across this image.  

This cycle continues with all three departments working together on a daily basis.  

You can read more about how we look after all our staff in A welcoming environment.