Criming Blog by Kay Wallace

In response to the query regarding criming in the following circumstances;
 
We have dealt with an offence of ‘Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity: Female child  no penetration’.
 
The circumstances were that a 24 year old male befriended a 12 year old female online and for a period of 8 months effectively groomed her. There has been contact on ‘snapchat ‘and male sent her indecent images and videos and she sent pictures of herself naked body back to him on request.  Male has on one occasion picked the child up from her home address and taken her out in his car, the second arranged meet did not take place, due to intervention of family and friends. 
 
The officer involved is now struggling with crime recording standards, requiring the child to be recorded as a suspect for sending indecent images of herself, when in fact she was an ‘innocent child victim’, and the sending of the pictures from her to him would have all been part of the grooming process by the suspect.
 
Have any network members worked with this situation before? whilst HOCR (The Home Office Counting Rules) have to apply this, it is felt to be inappropriate.
 
There were lots of replies received in relation to this query, many echoing the frustrations of the officer raising the query.

To summarise the vast majority of the emails, outcome 21 was the solution (College of Policing Briefing note for police action in response to youth produced sexual imagery (sexting) (attached). 

The general feeling was that the recording of the crime helps demonstrate the fact that children are being  groomed to commit crimes and as an organisation the police should be monitoring the scale of the problem. Recording the crimes helps to do this and will help protect children in the long run. 

Outcome 21 was created to ensure that no child ‘suspect’ is adversely affected by DBS checks when they become adults.

 

Additionally, the following parliamentary question was supplied by one of our police network members;

Question;

Asked on: 21 February 2017

Home Office

Sexting: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of reports that young people are receiving criminal records for sending indecent images without having been charged with an offence.

Answer;

Answered by: Brandon Lewis

Answered on: 24 February 2017

A criminal record for the offence of sending an indecent image will only result where the offender, child or adult, is charged to court (and found guilty) or cautioned by the police. Where the police resolve such cases by other means no criminal record is established.

The Government is clear that where a crime has been committed it should be recorded as such. This is critical to understand the extent of this issue, to identify any pattern of repeat or high-risk behaviour, and providing transparency and accountability.

However, the police have wide discretion as to how to address such behaviour. Working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Department for Education new guidance has been issued to police and schools in relation to children sending indecent images and which has a focus on safeguarding. We have introduced a new outcome for police to apply in cases where they consider it appropriate to undertake no criminal investigation and which will highlight that any subsequent disclosure should only be in the most exceptional cases.

 

Question;

Asked on: 21 February 2017

Home Office

Sexting: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if her Department will reconsider the requirement to record as a crime the sending of indecent images by young people while not charging them formally.

Answer;

Answered by: Brandon Lewis

Answered on: 24 February 2017

A criminal record for the offence of sending an indecent image will only result where the offender, child or adult, is charged to court (and found guilty) or cautioned by the police. Where the police resolve such cases by other means no criminal record is established.

The Government is clear that where a crime has been committed it should be recorded as such. This is critical to understand the extent of this issue, to identify any pattern of repeat or high-risk behaviour, and providing transparency and accountability.

However, the police have wide discretion as to how to address such behaviour. Working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Department for Education new guidance has been issued to police and schools in relation to children sending indecent images and which has a focus on safeguarding. We have introduced a new outcome for police to apply in cases where they consider it appropriate to undertake no criminal investigation and which will highlight that any subsequent disclosure should only be in the most exceptional cases.

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One police area however, has now gone away from following HOCR, they have taken the stance that offences of this type will not be crimed and this is supported by their Chief Constable.
 
Hope this provides some food for thought!