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Huge increase in child web pornography

But UK child-abuse sites 'virtually eradicated'

According to the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation), the number of websites publishing pictures and videos of children being sexually abused continues to grow.

In 2006 the IWF noted a 34 percent increase year on year in reports made to its hotline, a total 31,776 such reports. Following these reports it was confirmed that 10,656 URLs on 3,077 websites contained images of illegal child abuse.

Most of the illegal sites are hosted in the US or Russia. In 2006 82.5 percent of child pornography sites were hosted in those countries, up from 67.9 percent in 2005. Less than 1 percent of reported paedophile websites are hosted in the UK.

The appearance of images showing what is termed as the 'most severe' sexual abuse has increased four-fold. The IWF report also noted an increase in the abuse of photo-sharing websites. In 2006 such websites made up 10.6 percent of all reports of child abuse images online.

Peter Robbins, the IWF's chief executive, said: "The increase in reports… is due in part to the increased awareness of our organisation, but also to the identification of a growing trend in the use of remote image-storage facilities.

"The UK has virtually eradicated the hosting of potentially illegal online child abuse content within its virtual borders."

One child-pornography website has been reported to the IWF 224 times since 2002. Another website has been reported 54 times since 2000 - this site has been found on servers in seven different countries in that time.

It is increasingly difficult to close such websites because, when challenged, they simply switch servers to different countries or host images on a remote server.

The IWF provided police with information which led to only four arrests in 2006. Another 42 reports are still being investigated.

Read the full report here.

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