1. A teenage girl and her boyfriend have been given police cautions for sharing an explicit photo of her, Nottinghamshire police said yesterday.
The girl, who is under 18, was told that both she and her boyfriend could be committing an offence of taking or distributing an indecent image of a child. The maximum penalty, if tried at Crown Court, is 10 years in prison plus an entry on the Sex Offenders’ Register.
Police were called after the image was forwarded by the boy to his friends after the couple had an argument.
Detective Sgt. Jan Rusdale of Nottinghamshire Police said: “They could end up on the register for a couple of years. When they come to getting a job this would then count against them.
“We just want to get the message out there that this is a very serious offence. We need parents and children to realise this.”
2. The force has written to all schools in the county warning that children over 10 can potentially be arrested and convicted for sexting. In it, Detective inspector Martin Hillier writes:
I have grave concerns over the amount of referrals Nottinghamshire police are receiving on a daily basis in relation to naked images being sent between teenagers via either social networking, texts or mobile phone apps.
It is crucial that children (under 18 years) understand that every internet site and social networking site is monitored by an administrator.
When photographs that fall within the category of an indecent image (even if taken with consent) are uploaded, reports are made by the administrators to the police.
If a person is aged over 10 years and distributes (shares – even to friends) an indecent image then they can be arrested, charged and dealt with for this offence.
If they are found guilty they must then register as a sex offender.
3. This is a growing problem for the police, who struggle to keep up with the habits of teenagers and keep them informed of dangers.
Forces across the country are giving talks and producing leaflets to let people know the risks. The Nottinghamshire case shows that police are usually lenient for first-time offences, but the legislation governing this makes no allowances for minors.
Aside from the legal risks, schools and children’s charities are keen to stress that compromising pictures are often shared with many people against the sender’s will, leaving people open to ridicule, abuse, and blackmail.