No such requests have been made by the Home Office. Where investigation by a UK law enforcement agency identifies a child abuse image being hosted in another jurisdiction, it will seek to notify the appropriate authority in that country of its presence so that they can seek its removal and take further appropriate action. A similar process is also undertaken by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF was formed in 1996 following an agreement between the Government, police and the internet service provider industry that a partnership approach was needed to tackle the distribution of child abuse images online. The IWF operate the only authorised hotline in the UK for the public to report their inadvertent exposure to illegal content on the internet. The hotline provides internet users with a means of reporting potentially illegal content that are located on websites that specifically contain images of child abuse (hosted anywhere in the world), criminally obscene content (hosted in the UK) or criminally racist content (hosted in the UK). As a result of these arrangements less than one per cent. of potentially illegal content is apparently hosted in the UK. Figures for the number of instances on which such requests have been made to other jurisdictions by UK law enforcement are not collated. The legal basis for removing such sites will be dependent on the legislation in place in the particular country in question.
More generally, the Government continues to talk with our international partners about further measures which can be taken to combat the abuse of children and remove such images wherever they are hosted. The G8 countries have adopted a strategy on protecting children from sexual exploitation on the internet. As part of this strategy the UK is leading the development of an international child image database, housed at Interpol which aims to act as a global repository of images of child abuse contributing to the identification of victims and offenders and analysis of images.
The UK also leads in promoting co-operation among law enforcement agencies through the creation, by the National Crime Squad in 2003, of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT). This is an international alliance of law enforcement agencies delivering innovative crime prevention and crime reduction initiatives to deter and prevent individuals from committing child abuse on-line offences. The VGT is engaged in a number of initiatives which compliment and support the work of existing law enforcement agencies. These include Operation Pin, a website purporting to host child abuse images but which in fact directs those searching for child abuse images to a law enforcement page. The VGT have also developed an international website (www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com) which was launched on