1. ITV Report

Number of web pages found with images of child sexual abuse soars by 137%

Web pages with child sexual abuse images soars by 137%. Photo: PA

A UK internet watchdog has revealed that the number of web pages found with images of child sexual abuse soared by 137% last year.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said it removed 31,266 URLs hosting pictures and videos of children being sexually abused in 2014, compared with 13,182 in 2013.

It comes after the regulator was given new powers to seek out criminal content online in the wake of the murders of Tia Sharp and April Jones.

Both girls were murdered by men who had previously viewed child sexual abuse images on the internet.

IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves that while the online industry was "stepping up" efforts to tackle child sexual abuse images, many companies did not recognise they had a problem, or were too slow to respond.

"It is not good enough for those companies to allow the burden of responsibility to fall on a socially responsible few," she said.

"This year will ensure they have nowhere to hide as we will be targeting them for the benefit of all internet users and victims of sexual abuse."

The IWF, which was launched in 1996, is funded by 117 companies and organisations including technology giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter.

An increase in funding last year saw the watchdog recruit another eight internet content analysts to root out child abuse imagery online, taking their total to 12.

In its annual report for 2014, the IWF said 0.3% of imagery found last year was hosted in the UK, compared with 18% in 1996. Most of the images identified were hosted in North America (56%).

Ninety five UK-based web pages or URLs were removed in 2014 because they were hosting child sexual abuse images and videos, the IWF said.

Around 89% of those pages contained images of children aged 10 or under, an increase from 65% in 2013 and 79% in 2012, the watchdog added.