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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Internet Investigation Report

C.1: Introduction

1. The precise number of indecent images of children in circulation worldwide is not known but is believed to be in the many millions. In the US alone, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) database contains 47.2 million unique images and 14.6 million unique videos which include indecent images of children and images taken prior to the abuse occurring.[1]

2. Images encountered by law enforcement span a spectrum of offending, including images of children in sexualised poses, the rape of young children and babies, penetration of small children and infants with objects, as well as children being tied up and subjected to physically painful sexual assaults.

3. The harm inflicted does not end once the image has been taken. In its recent annual report, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) recounted the abuse of a young girl called Olivia.[2] In 2013, eight-year-old Olivia was rescued by police. For five years she had been raped and tortured. Images and videos were taken of this abuse. Her abuser was imprisoned. However, the images remained online. Over a three-month period,[3] the IWF encountered images of Olivia’s abuse online (including on commercial websites) on average five times a day.

4. This repeat victimisation is a constant worry for victims who were either groomed into taking photos of themselves or who had photos taken of them while they were being sexually assaulted. IN-A1, who was groomed online, said she “remains worried about where the images of her and her brother are”.[4] Another victim, IN-A3, told us:

you don’t know where these images will end up … and that is an awful feeling, thinking that paedophiles can just look online and get whatever they want … it’s scary”.[5]


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