Internet safety

Internet safety and the law

Illegal Material

The internet is a constantly growing field of information connecting millions of people across the world. It is a great tool, but something that can be open to abuse. This means that there is a lot of offensive and illegal material available to view at any time.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) works with the police, the government and the education sector to reduce the following kinds of material:

  • child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
  • criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK
  • incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK
  • non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK

There is a difference between something that's offensive and something that's illegal. You are not expected to know the law in detail - but if you see something that worries you:

  • tell a responsible adult
  • tell a teacher
  • tell your safer schools officer - if you don't already know find out how to contact them, ask a teacher in your school to find out. Or if your school doesn't have a Safer Schools Officer assigned then you can contact your Safer Neighbourhoods Team or talk to any Police Officer you see in your area.

Reporting illegal material

If you come across something that is illegal, you can report it to the Internet Watch Foundation. Remember that there is a difference between illegal material and offensive material. The IWF and the police can only get involved if the law has been broken.

If you report a crime to the IWF:

  • you can choose to remain anonymous by not giving your name
  • any details you provide will be kept strictly confidential

For information about what happens when you submit a report, go to the IWF website. On the same site you can also read about the laws that cover illegal material on the internet.

We at the Metropolitan Police Service will take action if the crime has happened in London. If it is somewhere else in the UK we will pass the information on to the correct authority or police force.

For more information about staying safe online visit our ‘More help and advice’ page.