Nearly 6,500 children investigated by police for sexting offences

Police have investigated 6,499 cases since 2017

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Thousands of children have been investigated by police for sexting offences in the past three years, new figures show.

Since 2017, there have been 6,499 cases of children under the age of 14 investigated for taking or sharing indecent images of themselves or other minors via text or over the internet.

Figures from 27 police forces in England and Wales show 306 cases of children younger than 10 being investigated around sexting.

Among those 306, 17 were aged six, nine were aged five and four were just four years old.

However, as the suspects were below the age of criminal responsibility - which is 10 in England and Wales - no action could be taken against them.

The figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, showed a rise in police investigations for sexting offences, rising from 183 cases a month in 2017 to 241 a month in 2019.

Only 30 of the 6,499 cases resulted in a charge, caution or summons for the child.

New guidance for police officers on how to respond to sexting was published in 2016.

It enabled forces to deal with offences without criminalising children by introducing Outcome 21, which allows police to record a crime as having happened but no formal action is to be taken.

It can only be used in cases where there is no evidence of exploitation, grooming or malicious intent.

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