By Anna Borgström, CEO, NetClean

I am pleased to introduce the NetClean Report – COVID-19 Impact 2020. This is our sixth consecutive report since we first started producing the reports in 2015. What started then as a basic survey and overview of child sexual abuse (CSA) crime, has grown into a larger and much more ambitious project.

The NetClean Report is now an important part of our ambition to add to the globally growing knowledge bank about CSA crime, which is used to create awareness and discourse about this world-wide problem. The previous NetClean Reports have reached a global audience from a wide range of industries, and have been read by policy makers, advocacy leaders, business leaders, law enforcement professionals and researchers. In the current time of a global pandemic, this latest research is more urgent than ever.

As we begin 2021, we know that the impact of what happened last year, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from that, will continue to affect us for years to come.

In the spring of 2020, we saw early indications that many of the measures, e.g. lockdowns and social restrictions, were increasing the risk that children – those in already vulnerable situations, but also more children in general – would suffer sexual abuse.

This is why this year’s NetClean Report focuses on the fallout from COVID-19. The results, based on a survey conducted with law enforcement professionals working across the globe on this issue, showed that the early indications were correct – the pandemic has created an environment with increased risks for children and affected law enforcement capacity to investigate CSA crimes. This survey is presented in the first part of this report.

As in previous years, we have also included a ‘business insights’ section in the report. NetClean works exclusively with employers and workplaces and is therefore well placed to provide unique insight into how this important sector is addressing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and taking responsibility for their IT environments.

This year we asked businesses to describe the drivers behind their decision to stop CSAM from appearing in their IT environments. We also looked into how COVID-19 has affected the way that people work in these organisations, and the associated issues that come with a workforce suddenly working remotely.

The NetClean Report – COVID-19 Impact 2020 highlights how vulnerable children have been made even more vulnerable because of the pandemic, as many safeguards have been removed from their lives.