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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Internet Investigation Report

A.4: Procedure adopted by the Inquiry

19. The procedure adopted by the Inquiry is set out in Annex 1 to this report. Core participant status was granted under Rule 5 of the Inquiry Rules 2006 to three victims of online-facilitated child sexual abuse and five institutions and other interested parties.

20. The Inquiry separated its examination of the institutional responses to online-facilitated child sexual abuse into two phases. The phase one hearing was held in January 2018 and examined the response of law enforcement. In preparation for that hearing, the Inquiry requested data which resulted in figures relating to 2016/17 being provided. The Inquiry subsequently requested data relating to 2018/19 and, where available, this report refers to the more recent figures. The phase two hearing was held in May 2019 and focussed on the response of industry and the government. The Inquiry held several preliminary hearings in advance of the two substantive public hearings, which heard evidence over 14 days.

21. The Inquiry received evidence from a number of sources. It heard accounts given by complainant core participants and other family members who had been directly affected by online-facilitated child sexual abuse. Those accounts provided the Inquiry with the distressing detail of the sexual abuse they or their loved ones suffered and the devastating effects of such abuse.

22. On behalf of law enforcement, the Inquiry heard from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigations. We also heard from witnesses representing a selection of the police forces in England and Wales, including those covering the least populated areas (such as Cumbria) through to those covering the most populated areas (such as Greater Manchester Police and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)).

23. The Inquiry heard evidence from a number of the companies which are responsible for provision of access to the internet and/or which provide social media platforms or other services, including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and BT. On behalf of the government, the Inquiry heard from the Home Office. Additionally the Inquiry heard from a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities, including from the Marie Collins Foundation, the NSPCC, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), and John Carr OBE (a consultant and adviser on online safety and security).

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