A welcome and proportionate approach to “sexting ” between youths

The Sexual offences legislation was introduced to protect children not criminalise them for inter-peer relationships.

Sexual offence legislation was introduced to protect young people. It is an offence to possess or make indecent images of children and young persons. The law, which predated much of the current digital technology, is not flexible enough to consider situations whereby teenagers would send images of one another.

It has been a long-held view that although unlawful and undesirable, prosecution and criminalisation of these young people is disproportionate and leads to greater implications as the sexual offence becomes recorded on the Disclosure and Barring Service

New Guidance has been introduced for police to carefully consider whether criminalisation of young people in these circumstances is in the public interest. They have the discretion to take no further action in such cases and thus ensure that the Young person obtains a criminal record or an entry on the DBS.

The Guidance specifically targets those under 18, sending “sext ” messages with others under 18. Anyone over the age of 18 is considered an adult and sending such images to, or even possessing images of an under 18-year-old can lead to prosecution.


Please contact our office if you need further advice.