West Yorkshire Police have warned local young people that sharing sexual images of themselves could potentially lead to criminal charges.
The force last week launched a campaign to try and tackle the problem of “sexting” – which is causing increasing concern across the region and nationwide.
Between March 2014 and April this year, police investigated 28 offences, all of which involved offenders and victims under the age of 16.
Now officers are warning teenagers about the dangers of either requesting or sharing sexual images. Councils in Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford and other local communities are also supporting the “Think Before You Send” campaign.
Det Chief Insp Sue Jenkinson said: “Sexting’ is an activity we have become increasingly aware of amongst young people and many may not realise that what they are doing is illegal or that it may be potentially harmful to them in the future.
“Those who encourage people under 16 to take sexually explicit pictures of themselves should be under no illusion though that what they are doing is a criminal offence which will be investigated.
“This could lead to you getting into trouble with the police, affect your chances of getting a job and even limit the countries that you can travel to.”
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said he whole-heartedly supported efforts to raise awareness, but acknowledged the force would have to work with other agencies to get the message across.
The crackdown follows a number of similar operations around the country, although some civil liberties campaigners have criticised the threats of criminal action – arguing that this tough approach is not in the interests of teenagers.
A conviction for sexual offences, no matter how small, can have a devastating impact on your personal life, loved ones and future career prospects. If you are accused of committing any form of sexual offence then it is essential to seek expert legal representation as soon as possible. For advice on how Lester Morrill’s criminal law team can help you, please contact us.