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The Internet and Child Sexual Abuse

An inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated by the internet.

No issue is more pressing for contemporary child protection than the role of the internet in facilitating child sexual abuse. Developments in technology have created new opportunities for offending against children. Some reflect patterns of offending which have existed for years: for example, the creation, possession and distribution of indecent images of children or the grooming of children for the purpose of abuse at a later time. Other opportunities to offend are new, including the use of online streaming as a means of abusing children who may be in the UK or abroad.

In this investigation, the Inquiry will review national policies on preventing abuse facilitated by the internet and will consider the appropriateness of the response of the National Crime Agency, its CEOP Command, and the police. The Inquiry will investigate the policies of internet service providers, providers of online platforms, and other relevant software and communication technology companies relating to child sexual abuse, and consider the adequacy of the existing statutory and regulatory framework applicable to those organisations. The objective of the investigation is to make practical recommendations that minimise the opportunities for abuse facilitated by the internet in the future.

Next Steps:

The first public hearings in this investigation are scheduled to take place the week commencing 22 January 2018, and will hear evidence in relation to paragraph 2.4 of the published scope of investigation: "the response of law enforcement agencies to child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet". 

A preliminary hearing was held at 10:30am on 19 September 2017 at the International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) in London. A transcript for this hearing can be found here.

Following the hearings in January 2018, there will be further invitations for core participant applications arising from other aspects of the investigation.

The Inquiry is encouraging all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience via our Truth Project.

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