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Sexting and social media: Police will always try to avoid criminalising young people

03 Sep 2015

The NPCC has explained its position on the policing of children and young people, emphasising the importance of a proportionate and consistent response.

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Children and Young People, Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney, said:

“Policing is about protecting the most vulnerable in society and children are children first and foremost.

"A new National Strategy for the Policing of Children and Young People was launched this year which highlights the importance of getting our response right and avoiding unnecessary criminalisation – especially where the behaviour can be dealt with more appropriately through other means.

"If agreed by those involved, schools and educational establishments have the ability to deal with situations as they see fit. If any party chooses to report the incident to police then the Home Office Counting Rules are clear that it must be recorded as a crime.

"Importantly however, the resolution of the incident and decision to investigate further remains at an officer's discretion. Further still, the decision to disclose this as part of associated checks in future life is one carefully considered by forces, in line with Home Office guidance, ensuring it is relevant and it's context outlined. Work is on-going with partners to ensure that this guidance is clear and applied in a consistent way.

“’Sexting’ may seem like a harmless or normal activity but there are many risks involved. Once circulated, the sender loses all control of that image and can cause significant distress when it gets into wider hands. It is essential that we work, alone and alongside partners such as schools and families, to intervene early and prevent young people from becoming both the victims and perpetrators of crime.”

Read the updated National Strategy for Policing Children and Young People here