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UK Overseas Territories join forces with Internet Watch Foundation to fight online child sexual abuse imagery

Ascension has launched a dedicated IWF Reporting Portal, to allow web users to report images and videos of child sexual abuse safely and anonymously.

The launch comes as part of an IWF initiative made possible by funding from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Cyber Security Capacity Building Programme. It will provide a quick and easy way for citizens to report online images and videos of child sexual abuse, to a safe and anonymous hotline.

A planned roll-out of the IWF Reporting Portal is happening simultaneously in 12 UK Overseas Territories. IWF Reporting Portals have already been successfully established in Mauritius and Uganda.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO says: “It’s great that Ascension has joined this ground-breaking initiative, to provide a first class Reporting Portal to protect their citizens. Child sexual abuse imagery is a global problem and we can only fight it with a truly global solution.”

What is the IWF Reporting Portal?

By working closely with internet companies, the IWF helps people who stumble across online child sexual abuse images and videos [sometimes known as child pornography] to report it anonymously, via a web-based reporting Hotline.

Ascension’s IWF Reporting Portal can be found here.

A team of experienced IWF analysts then work directly with the internet industry and law enforcement, to have any abusive imagery removed quickly.

The advantage of establishing an IWF Reporting Portal is that any reports of suspected online child sexual abuse imagery generated in  Ascension will be assessed directly by one of IWF’s analysts. These analysts are respected globally for their experience.

Today, the IWF Hotline provides one of the most successful reporting mechanisms in the world. When they were founded 20 years ago, 18% of the world’s online child sexual abuse imagery was hosted in the UK. Thanks to their analysts, that figure is now 0.2%. These analysts are considered world-leaders for their expertise.

Harriet Lester, the IWF’s Technical Projects Officer working with Rob Parfrey says: “The launch of the Reporting Portal in Ascension is a huge step towards our mission to remove child abuse images and video [sometimes known as child pornography] from the internet completely. The response from people here has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re looking forward to helping them make their corner of the internet a safer place.”

Watch this short video which explains what the IWF Reporting Portal is and how it works.

Read more about Ascension’s IWF Reporting Portal.

The IWF in Ascension

The IWF has worked closely with AIG & the Police. UK Minister for the Overseas Territories, James Duddridge says: “This demonstrates the Overseas Territories commitment to protecting children from harm and builds on the excellent work of the Internet Watch Foundation, who remove child sexual abuse content hosted anywhere in the world. I am delighted the FCO, through our Cyber Security Capacity Building programme, have been able to support this.”

Ascension Island Social Worker, Rob Parfrey, said “Being able to use IWF to help protect children while online and raise their awareness of internet safety is a worthwhile and needed project on our technologically developing island. The IWF have been professional and supportive in rolling out this service “.

Online child sexual abuse images and videos are a very real problem across the globe. The IWF brings together governments, law enforcement, the online industry and civil society to do what’s needed to eliminate images of child sexual abuse from the Internet.

In 2015 (figures published in April 2016) the IWF positively identified 68, 092 reports of child sexual abuse images or videos, which it then helped remove from the internet. From that figure, 69% of the victims were assessed as ten years old or under. 1788 victims were assessed as two or under. Just over one third were category A – the rape or sexual torture of children.

Removing these abusive images from the internet makes it a safer place for all.

What IWF do:

IWF make the internet a safer place. They help victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse. They search for child sexual abuse images and videos and offer a place for the public to report them anonymously. Then then have them removed. They’re a not for profit organisation and are supported by the global internet industry and the European Commission.

For more information please visit

The IWF is part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, working with Childnet International and the South West Grid for Learning to promote the safe and responsible use of technology.

Administrator’s Visit to St Helena

On 20-22 May, the Administrator, Marc Holland, travelled to St Helena on the RMS shuttle to meet the new Governor, Lisa Philips, and to discuss issues around the new St Helena airport. In discussions, the Governor reiterated that a passenger and freight service between the islands would be maintained whilst the issue of wind shear was resolved.  The Administrator visited the runway and toured the state of the art terminal buildings and control tower.


In other business, the Administrator met the Chief of Police, Chief Secretary, the Financial Secretary, the Director of ESH and the new Director of Safeguarding. A common theme that emerged from the meetings was how the two islands could work more closely together, for example by marketing the two islands together to tourists. The Administrator also joined the Governor for the St Helena Day celebrations and an impressive 20 minute firework display. On his return to Ascension, he hosted a lunch for the Head of the Governor’s Office, Sean Burns and St Helena Councillors, Lawson Henry & Pamela Ward-Pearce who were travelling on the RMS’ last voyage to London.


Maintaining Access to St Helena and Ascension

The St Helena Government issued this press release on Thursday 3 June 2016.

Following certification of St Helena Airport on Tuesday 10 May 2016, all parties are working to overcome the challenges of wind shear identified by the first few flights into the Airport. This work includes the development of appropriate operational procedures needed to allow services to use the northern Runway (20), where wind shear has been identified, as well as options for using the southern Runway (02), where wind shear has not been identified.

While this work continues, we recognise there are St Helenians in Cape Town, the UK and Ascension who are ready to return to St Helena and do not have a confirmed means of doing so. Others will be planning journeys in the coming weeks.

SHG will therefore honour its commitment to maintain access by extending the service of the RMS as an interim measure and for a limited period until air services begin. This service will be for passengers and freight. The schedule can be viewed at: and bookings will be accepted from Monday 6 June 2016.

This situation will be kept under review and should an air access solution be found quickly, we would need to reassess the plans for the RMS St Helena.

The public will continue to be informed of progress.


3 June 2016

Read this press release on the SHG website



Lisa Phillips sworn in as Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

The RMS St Helena arrived in James’ Bay on Monday 25 April, bringing with her the new Governor Designate for St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha – Ms Lisa Phillips.

Innaug 1

Innaug 2

 Ms Phillips is the 68th Governor of St Helena and her Dependencies and the first ever female to take on the role. She was sworn in this afternoon, just after 2pm, Monday 25 April 2016.

The familiar music of the Scout’s Band signaled the opening of the Inauguration Ceremony, which was also marked by the traditional parade of the St Helena Police, Sea Rescue Service, Fire Service, Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, Scouts and Beavers and the Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinders. The Salvation Army Band and members, the Get-togethers Orchestra, Customs Officers, Nurses and a group of schoolchildren were also present.

At 2pm the Governor Designate arrived at the Grand Parade, accompanied by the Aide de Camp, Debbie Stroud, who escorted her to the stage in front of the Supreme Court Terrace, where she was received by Chief Secretary Roy Burke. 

The Chief Secretary read the Royal Commission appointing Lisa Phillips as Governor of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. This was followed by the Administering of Oaths by St Helena’s Sheriff, Ethel Yon OBE, who also read the Address of Welcome.

In her reply to the Sheriff and her address to the public, Governor Phillips remarked:

“Since I found out I was coming here, anyone I met told me there are three things they knew about St Helena.  First, your famous previous resident, Napoleon, Second, your famous current resident, Jonathan. And third the new Airport.  In a way, they are perhaps indicative of the past present and future of the Island.  I am tremendously excited about the Airport. Having spent more years than I care to mention in DFID I am acutely aware of the history of the Airport from the inside, with all its twists and turns.  Never did I imagine I would be the first Governor to fly in and out of the Island.  I am proud to have that privilege in store for me….and talking of firsts I am also very proud to be your first female Governor.”

The full press release can be found here.

Beacon lit on Ascension Island to celebrate Queen’s 90th birthday

A beacon was lit at nightfall last night, Thursday 21 April 2016, to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen.


The beacon had been especially made for the occasion and was located at Fort Thornton in Georgetown. Children from the youth organisations, along with members of the local community, gathered at the fort to see the beacon being lit. The evening featured a short speech from Ascension’s Administrator, Marc Holland. Mr Holland also read a message from HRH The Prince of Wales about the significance of the occasion. Mr Johnny Hobson entertained the crowd with some information about The Queen’s preferences. A short chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ was also sung.

Ascension Wishes a Happy 90th Birthday to her Majesty The Queen

queen 90

There is a long and unbroken tradition in our country of celebrating Royal jubilees, weddings, coronations and special birthdays with the lighting of beacons – on top of mountains, churches and castle battlements, on towns and village greens, farms, country parks and estates, and along the beaches surrounding our shores.

The last major beacon celebration was on Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on 4 June 2012, when Ascension lit its beacon at the Turtle Ponds by Long Beach.

There will be a further opportunity to celebrate today, Thursday 21 April 2016, when beacons will be lit throughout the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories in celebration of her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday.

Bruno Peek, LVO, OBE, OPR, Pageantmaster, The Queen’s 90th Birthday Beacons said, “It has been a enormous privilege to be able to organise this amazing community event to celebrate the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen. I am delighted to see so many different organisations playing their part.”

Ascension will be lighting its own beacon shortly after nightfall this evening on top of Fort Thornton. This is being done with all the Youth Organisations – Beavers, Rainbows, Cubs, Brownies, Guides and Scouts. All from the community are welcome to attend to show their support.


Ascension featured on BBC Radio 4

Ascension Island and the greening of Green Mountain is the theme of the latest programme in BBC Radio 4’s Costing The Earth series. First aired on Tuesday 19 March and now available as a podcast, presenter Peter Gibbs talks to Ascension’s conservationists about the struggle to cope with invasive species running riot and the rescue of Ascension’s tiny endemic ferns, as well as enjoying an encounter with nesting turtles on the beaches and a wander among the chattering ‘wideawakes’ on the sweltering lava plains by the coast.

Download The Mars of the Mid-Atlantic as a podcast.


Union flag raised to commemorate garrisoning of Ascension by British Navy 200 years ago

Ascension Island 200

On Friday 23rd October, the first day of Ascension’s Bicentenary celebrations, a flag raising ceremony took place in the capital, Georgetown. The raising of the Union flag recreated the actions of the first British Navy settlers who came ashore on 22 October 1815, planted the flag and in so doing claimed the Island in the name of King George III.

The ceremony was supported by the Band of the Royal Marines and featured speeches by the Island’s Administrator, Marc Holland and visiting military chaplain, Padre Nick Cook.

Ascension Island 200Ascension Island 200

The Administrator encouraged those present to consider the conditions endured by those who first lived on Ascension:

“This weekend we will be saluting the ingenuity and determination of those early settlers to build shelter, find water and grow food. How they tamed the harsh volcanic landscape and made the inhospitable home. How they had to cope with shortages, disease and the psychological impact of isolation. And how Ascension officially became a ship and was run under naval discipline. We will pay tribute to those who dedicated their lives and sometimes paid the ultimate sacrifice to establish the basics of life on this island.

But this weekend is more than just a celebration of our military heritage, important though it is. In celebrating 200 years of British sovereignty, we will pay tribute to all the people who have made this island into what it is today.”

Ascension Island 200

Photo credits: Crown Copyright 2015/LPHOT Caroline Davies RN

Church bells ring to mark 200th anniversary of British settlement on Ascension Island

st mary's towerThe bells of St Mary’s Church, Ascension, were rung yesterday evening in recognition of the British men who came ashore exactly 200 years ago to establish a garrison on the Island. Commander Dobree of HMS Zenobia and Captain White of HMS Peruvian took possession of the Island on 22 October 1815 in the name of King George III.

The ringing of the church bells in Georgetown signalled the start of a weekend of Bicentenary celebrations and was followed by a ‘Dance the Night Away’ party in Georgetown Square, attended by a large and enthusiastic crowd of locals and visitors.

Further events planned for the weekend include a Flag Raising ceremony and the official opening of the new Bicentenary Park on Saturday.