Is this the UK’s toughest job?

Published:  Fri 27 Oct 2017

The Internet Watch Foundation is looking for a new analyst who can pass gruelling tests

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the world’s leading charity in identifying and removing online child sexual abuse material, is looking for a new recruit to take on Britain’s toughest job.

With 12 analysts now on the IWF Hotline, the charity is looking for one more who can help its mission to eliminate child sexual abuse imagery online.

An analyst’s job is to assess reports of online child sexual abuse content from the public, IT professionals and other sources. They also proactively search for child sexual abuse material and use internet tracing techniques to find images. They then have them removed.

The difficult tests that must be passed to be offered a job at the IWF include a questionnaire, personal interview, formal interview and a psychological assessment. Once they get through this, they are then given an image viewing session which is the toughest test of all.

Candidates will be questioned about their personal relationships, support networks and attitudes towards pornography.

Unlike other organisations, the IWF, which is based in Cambridge, is focussed on finding people with the ability to handle the nature of the role, rather than past experience.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, CEO at IWF, said: “Our analysts are our heroes. Every day they put themselves on the line to save children from sexual abuse across the world.

“With ever-changing technologies, our pioneering team are forever adapting and learning new techniques to stop online child sexual abuse in its tracks.

“Most of what we see is children aged 10 and under, and content can also show rape and sexual torture of the victim. It really is Britain’s toughest job.

“Recruiting the right person is quite an intensive process with more stages than you might expect. We need to know the candidate is mentally up to the task, that they have a good support system around them and that they want to work for IWF for the right reasons. It also helps for them to have an analytical mind.

“We hope potential applicants will see what a hugely rewarding role this is and be willing to get in touch. We are aware of the huge toll looking at this kind of content can have and looking after the health of our staff is paramount. To reflect this, we have an excellent welfare package, with which analysts are given monthly counselling sessions, an annual psychological assessment, a shorter working day, and away days every three months with the whole team.”

The IWF’s work with the online industry has resulted in just 0.1 percent of known child sexual abuse images and videos being hosted in the UK – down from 18 percent in 1996.

The charity is embarking on a number of exciting projects in 2018 which the new analyst will be at the forefront of.

IWF hallway

Peter*, an analyst for the IWF, said: “The tests and assessments during the recruitment process are very difficult to pass, but they’re designed like that for a reason.

“Every single analyst in our team comes from a completely different walk of life. We have people who are mums, grandparents, graduates fresh out of university and ex social workers, for instance. I spent 23 years in military intelligence so was used to seeing shocking images from conflict zones, but nothing could prepare me for dealing with child sexual abuse images.

“The IWF isn’t just looking for people with IT skills, but more importantly they’re looking at your psychological ability to handle the difficult and often overwhelming task of viewing online child sexual abuse material every day. The office is full of such inspirational people and we support one another in order to do what others can’t.”

Though there are lots of difficult parts of the job, Peter believes there is one key moment every analyst experiences that keeps them doing what they do.

He said: “The feeling you get when you know you’ve saved a child from sexual abuse is indescribable, it’s a real rush of happiness.

“Soon after I joined the IWF, I identified an image that looked new. The image was of a young schoolgirl in her bedroom. I noticed the decor and her clothing, so the team all started researching it and trying to find out where she was from.

"We reported it and within a few days the police had called and they had found her and rescued her and she was safe.

"I can't tell you how great we all felt when we got the news. Moments like that remind you why you’re doing what you do.”

If you think you could do Britain’s toughest job, apply with the IWF by Friday 3rd November 2017 at

Aylo and IWF partnership ‘paves the way’ for adult sites to join war on child sexual abuse online

Aylo and IWF partnership ‘paves the way’ for adult sites to join war on child sexual abuse online

The ‘world first’ standards will help to ‘set and raise’ standards to prevent the upload and distribution of online child sexual abuse imagery.

17 May 2024 News
Biggest telecoms and digital services company in NZ plays its part in securing a safer internet for all

Biggest telecoms and digital services company in NZ plays its part in securing a safer internet for all

Spark joins the Internet Watch Foundation as a Member, helping to keep the internet free from child sexual abuse content.

16 May 2024 News
Heimdal joins fight against child sexual abuse material online

Heimdal joins fight against child sexual abuse material online

Global cybersecurity company partners with IWF to tackle child sexual abuse imagery on the internet

25 April 2024 News