Police investigations into youngsters sharing sexual pictures of themselves and others have greater than doubled in two years, figures have proven.
Forces in England and Wales recorded 6,238 underage “sexting” offences in 2016-17, a fee of 17 a day.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the Nationwide Police Chiefs’ Council lead for youngster safety, mentioned: “There’s a worrying upward development.”
He mentioned social networks wanted to take away indecent pictures extra shortly.
The variety of circumstances the place under-18s have been sharing indecent or prohibited pictures was up by a 3rd on the four,681 offences recorded the earlier yr, and represented a 131% rise on 2014-15, with 2,700 incidents.
Mr Bailey, who’s head of Norfolk Constabulary, mentioned: “Sharing and possessing these pictures is towards the regulation. As soon as a picture is shared with others it might trigger deep embarrassment and misery.”
In addition to calling for sooner motion from social media corporations, he mentioned faculties wanted to do extra to counteract the affect of pornography.
He mentioned: “I’m involved in regards to the affect that publicity to excessive pornography can have on youngsters so we have to think about if a scarcity of common relationship and intercourse training is compounding the issue.”
Exploitation and coercion
Police mentioned the youngest youngsters concerned in sexting inquiries have been aged 10, whereas the variety of offences investigated was at its peak amongst 14-year-olds.
Ladies have been extra more likely to be the victims, however suspects or perpetrators have been evenly break up between girls and boys.
Investigators famous that reviews of offences declined considerably in August, suggesting youngsters have been extra in danger at school time period time.
The figures cowl a interval wherein the Faculty of Policing launched new steering, aimed toward assuaging issues that youngsters could be routinely criminalised by legal guidelines on sexting.
It mentioned that officers ought to document all circumstances of under-18s sharing pictures of themselves or different youngsters as crimes. Nonetheless, formal motion solely must be taken the place there may be exploitation, coercion or wider youngster safety points.
There have been greater than 2,000 such circumstances the place police decided that additional motion was not within the public curiosity in 2016-17.
Mr Bailey mentioned: “Forces are risk-assessing each case to make sure we aren’t unnecessarily stigmatising youngsters and saddling them with a legal document.
“However there’ll at all times be a legal investigation the place we see that younger persons are being coerced, exploited or blackmailed.”
The NSPCC mentioned the rise in sexting incidents is “extraordinarily worrying”.
“It’s vital that folks and faculties discuss to youngsters in regards to the risks of sexting as quickly as they’re given any know-how,” the charity mentioned.