Father hugging son

FAQs

We understand that seeing violent or harmful content online can be very upsetting. We at the IWF work within a very stringent set of rules which mean we're only able to assess and seek the removal of child sexual abuse imagery. 

Below you'll find the answers to our most commonly asked questions.

If you don't find the answer you need, please get in touch

Reporting FAQs

How do I report suspected child sexual abuse images or videos?

You can report suspected online child sexual abuse images or videos to us online via our online reporting tool. It’s quick and simple and you don’t need to give us your contact details if you don’t want to.

How do I report something that’s not child sexual abuse images and videos?

We can only assess and remove images or videos showing the sexual abuse of children (under the age of 18). If you need to report something else, you may find the information you need here. If a child or adult is in immediate danger, please contact the police on your local emergency number.

Can I report live streamed videos?

Yes. However, due to the nature of live streaming events, it is unlikely that we will be able to view the content at the time of it happening. You should however still report the site as it may provide an opportunity to gather important evidence even after the streaming event has finished.

Do I have to give you my name and contact details when I make a report?

No. All you need to provide is the URL (link to the webpage) where you saw the content and we’ll assess it. If you want to provide your details, you can, if requested.

What happens after I’ve made my report?

Our team of analysts will assess your report and if it breaks UK law and is child sexual abuse in nature, we will work with a variety of partners to have the content removed no matter where it’s located in the world.

I’ve made a report and the content wasn’t removed. Why?

We can only assess and action images and videos that are child sexual abuse in nature. If you’ve submitted a report and the content is something else, we’re legally unable to do anything. You can find out where you can report other types of content here.

If the report you submitted is confirmed as child sexual abuse, depending on where it’s hosted in the world, sometimes it takes longer to have the content removed but we add any live URLs showing child sexual abuse to our blocking list while we’re working to have it deleted and will monitor the webpage until it’s removed.

If you have submitted a report to us, please do not re-visit the page to see if it’s been removed as you may be unintentionally breaking the law.

There are sexual images of me as an adult online, how do I get them removed?

The Revenge Porn Helpline are set up specifically to help adults (people over the age of 18) get their images removed. 

Why can’t you take down the site immediately?

Removal times vary for different reasons, such as the country the content is located in. Find out more here.

Why can’t you take down images or URLs sent on a messaging app like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger? How do I report these?

We take reports of child sexual abuse images hosted on the open internet. When an image is sent within a messaging app with end-to-end encryption (such as WhatsApp), we can’t access this information. Find information on how to report images found on these services here.

Why can’t you take reports on grooming or suspected paedophiles?

Our remit is specific. Our analysts are trained to find images of child sexual abuse, we are not the police and do not have the remit to investigate potentially suspicious internet users, groups, or online comments they may make.  We do not have the resources or training to deal with anything outside of our remit. If you believe a child is in immediate danger you should call your country’s police emergency number immediately. If you have concerns about the sexual exploitation or grooming of a child, you can report it here.

Why can I not help you by looking for child sexual abuse imagery and reporting it to you?

We appreciate your concern about the nature of the material you have found on the Internet and your wish to assist us in tackling it. However, due to the legal issues surrounding our work, we cannot use outside help. We must caution you against purposely searching for such content as in doing so, you are putting yourself at risk. Please note it is against the law to actively seek out child sexual abuse images, even if the motivation is to subsequently report the content to the IWF or the Police. It should be noted that specifically searching for content to report to the IWF or the Police would not be a protected defence in court. IWF has an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and National Police Chiefs' Council which allows us to do our work legally. You can read more on this here.

What is Non-Photographic imagery?

Non-photographic images of child sexual abuse are different from photographic or ‘real’ images. They could be computer-generated images, or hand drawn images. The images we can act on must be of human children, pornographic, grossly offensive, and focus on a human child's genitals or depict sexual activity involving or in the presence of a human child. We can also only act on these types of images when they are hosted in the UK. Some typical NPI reports we receive that we do not remove are images of non-human baby animals, and pornographic drawings of adults.

How is the IWF able to view child sexual abuse without getting in trouble with the police?

We have a Memorandum of Understanding (or MOU) with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), linked to Section 46 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which allows us to view, assess and seek the removal of child sexual abuse. You can read more about the legal basis for what we do here.

I want to report people writing horrible things about children. Why can’t you take action?

We are unable to act on stories about child sexual abuse. We understand there are stories written online which describe child sexual abuse, and that these can be distressing to stumble across, but our remit is solely for images. You can report written harmful content here.

Are the police going to turn up at my door? I wasn’t looking for these images, and now I am scared I will get in trouble with the police.

If you simply stumbled across these images, then you should have nothing to worry about if you have acted reasonably. You have done the right thing by making a report to us. You should then delete any images or URLs (web address links) from your device(s) as soon as you have reported them. We know it can be upsetting to see these images.

If you think you could benefit from talking to a counsellor, Counselling Directory provides profiles of counsellors across the UK, detailing the areas of counselling each offers and the fees they charge.

I am an adult now, but I have found sexual images of me as a child online, what happens now?

We understand that this may be a difficult and upsetting time for you. Please report these images to us. If you leave your contact details, we can let you know what will happen with your report. You can get support from the Marie Collins Foundation.  

I’m worried a child is being groomed. Can I report this to you?

No. We can only take reports of child sexual abuse imagery online. If you’re concerned that a child is in immediate danger, please contact the police using your local emergency number. Reports can also be made at your local police station or online via the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection command) reporting page.

I suspect someone I know is a paedophile. Can I report this to you?

No – we can only take reports of child sexual abuse imagery online. If you’re concerned that a child is in immediate danger, please contact the police using your local emergency number. Reports can also be made at your local police station or online via the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection command) reporting page.

I didn’t know where else to report something that is outside of your remit. Why can’t you pass it on to the right people?

We do not have the resources to pass on anything that is outside of our remit. Our analysts need to spend their time finding and removing child sexual abuse images. Sending reports that we cannot deal with means we have less time to protect the child victims of sexual abuse. You can find various organisations to help you with reporting content outside of our remit here.

Working at the IWF must impact your staff’s mental health a great deal. How do you take care of them?

All new analysts go through a specially developed and rigorous induction training programme to help them mentally process and cope with exposure to disturbing images.

Our analysts’ working hours are restricted; they take regular timetabled breaks and are encouraged to take more breaks as and when they need. All our staff work shorter days to ensure their personal lives don’t suffer, and we don’t allow analysts to work overtime or from home.

Each month they have individual mandatory counselling sessions and all employees who see criminal imagery have an annual full psychological assessment. In fact, everyone who works for us is offered counselling support.

I am very upset at what I have seen. Who do I talk to?

We understand that seeing child sexual abuse content can be very upsetting. These links below could help you.

Donating FAQs

Can I make a monthly/regular donation to the IWF?

Yes! You can choose to donate any amount to us every month by completing your details here.

Can I cancel a regular donation to the IWF?

You’re fully in control and can cancel your regular donation at any time. If you would prefer, we can cancel it for you, just email us on donate@iwf.org.uk

Can I do a sponsored run or event for IWF?

Yes! Keep an eye on our Get Involved pages for any events we’re taking part in or get in touch if there’s an open event for which you would like us to be the beneficiary. You can email donate@iwf.org.uk

Can I donate from outside the UK?

Yes! You can donate to IWF from anywhere in the world here.

I am interested in donating a larger gift. Who should I contact?

Please see our Major Gifts information get in touch with our Development Team who will advise on the best way to do this without incurring fees. You can email donate@iwf.org.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Can I fundraise for IWF?

Of course! Please take a look at our Get Involved and Fundraising pages for more information or get in touch with our Development Team who will be able to help: donate@iwf.org.uk 

I can’t donate - are there other ways I can support IWF?

Yes! We can always use help raising awareness. Help spread the word by sharing our social posts on your social networks and subscribe to our newsletter (at the bottom of this page) for general updates.

  • You can donate via Amazon Smile when you shop which costs nothing on top of what you’re already spending.
  • Give As You Live allows you to shop online at hundreds of shops and donate to IWF at the same time.
  • Feeling adventurous? Trek, bike, climb, raft, ride, sledge or ski to your limits, achieve an incredible personal goal and support the Internet Watch Foundation at the same time with a Charity Challenge.

Learn more about how to get involved.

General FAQs

Why do you call it ‘child sexual abuse’ and not ‘child pornography’?

We use the term child sexual abuse to reflect the gravity of the images and videos we deal with. Child pornography, child porn, kiddie porn and other slang terms are not acceptable descriptions. A child cannot consent to their own abuse. 

Can I work at the IWF?

Any roles we have available are listed on our careers page so we would advise you to check here regularly for updates or follow us on social media to be the first to know. Everyone who works at IWF, regardless of the role, is subject to pre-medical, successful reference and an enhanced DBS check.

Can I be a volunteer for the IWF?

The IWF is unlike other charities and non-profit organisations and, due to the nature of our work, it’s difficult for us to work with volunteers easily. Everyone who works with us, regardless of the role, is subject to an enhanced DBS check and enhanced welfare provisions. As such recruiting volunteers for fundraising or other tasks would be very costly and time-consuming.

Need to report something that's not online child sexual abuse?

See our list of trusted organisations who can help.

find out more