Thames valley Police
There are many circumstances in which police in the UK cannot act directly against offensive or illegal material on the web. This is because:
- although a large amount of potentially offensive material is available online, much of it is not technically illegal
- many websites containing offensive or illegal material are based abroad.
However, there are circumstances in which UK police, including Thames Valley Police, can act on illegal material. These are:
- if the people who created the material are in the UK
- if the material has been published from or downloaded onto computers in the UK
- if the material might be evidence of crimes committed in the UK
- if it might be evidence of crimes committed by UK citizens whilst travelling abroad
- or if offensive or illegal material has been placed on a commercial system by a malicious hacker
If any of the above circumstances apply, police should be contacted. If you believe anyone to be at imminent risk or in danger, call 999.
The role of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
To report illegal material that falls outside these criteria, you will need to report it to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF remit covers:
- Child pornography located anywhere in the world
- Adult material in breach of the Obscene Publications Act, as long as the offending site or service is hosted or registered in the UK
- Any criminally racist material hosted in the UK.
If any of the above conditions apply please contact the IWF and not the police. The IWF are qualified to judge the illegality of the material and will contact the police if necessary. In the case of illegality they are also likely to contact the Internet Service Provider (ISP) hosting the material.
Please remember whoever you report Internet-related crime to, time is of the essence because of the shifting nature of the Internet. The quicker the information is received, the better.
Click here for more information on what to do if you receive emails that either contain or direct you to offensive or illegal material.
More information can be ound on the Thames Valley Police Website, probably also on your local police Website as well.
Find your Local Police force at http://www.police.uk/forces/default.asp