On Wednesday 25th May, Home Secretary, Priti Patel visited the SWGfL office to find out more about our important work in supporting victims of online harms. The afternoon was met with a lot of discussion about what kind of support we offer to individuals including a brief presentation about our four support services: The Revenge Porn Helpline, Professionals Online Safety Helpline, Report Harmful Content, and the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service. Find out what was discussed below:
Providing Support to the Public
The Revenge Porn Helpline team highlighted the extent of intimate image abuse seen throughout the current climate and the importance of providing support for victims who are mostly women. Sophie Mortimer (Helpline Manager) spoke in great length about how cases are dealt with, ensuring that victims never feel blamed for what has happened whilst reinforcing positive messages and making sure that people are aware of what support is provided across a national (helpline) and global scale (StopNCII.org). The Home Secretary was keen to hear about victim impact and how reports get handled when making contact with the helpline. Sophie raised that the Revenge Porn Helpline is the only UK service providing support for victims of intimate image abuse and the work it has done since its creation in 2015 has been vital.
Carmel Glassbrook (Manager of the POSH helpline) spoke about the work that the Professionals Online Safety Helpline does in providing support to professionals who are dealing with online safety concerns. There was also discussion about how staff can correctly safeguard children when dealing with online concerns and what types of behaviours and trends are currently being seen. In particular, the new Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service was brought up as showing the need for guidance around cases involving HSB so clearly articulated by the website everyonesinvited. The POSH helpline supports any professional in the UK who works with children and young people so support is always at hand.
Kathryn Tremlett (Harmful Content Manager) spoke about the work that Report Harmful Content does to remove the spread of harmful but legal content and the types of cases they have seen across the platform. She raised an important point about the Online Safety Bill and that it currently looks to dismantle the obligation for some platforms to provide ‘impartial dispute resolution’ as part of their user redress process. Kat highlighted that without this requirement, the Online Safety Bill is actively reducing the ability for legal but harmful content to be removed.
David Wright (CEO of SWGfL and Director of UK Safer Internet Centre) said:
''We are so proud of the important work we do and that we were able to share this with the Home Secretary. We hope that the Government will take on board the impact that online harms cause for some victims and how vitally important victim redress is, especially for women and girls.
Our services provide support to those who need it most and without them, people remain vulnerable and without help. The Online Safety Bill is moving through Parliament and there are still areas that need addressing. It is an evolving landscape and it is important that the Government are well aware of what we are seeing so the existing gaps in the Online Safety Bill drafting can be resolved''