Friday 16 November 2018

Police warn parents they could be arrested and their homes raided if their children are caught sexting

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A police force said it "gave the wrong impression" by warning parents could face arrest and have their homes raided if their children were caught sexting.

On Wednesday Kent Police said parents could be liable for the crime if their name is on contract for the phone used by their children to send the explicit messages of themselves or others under the age of 18.

But the NSPCC hit out calling for children to be supported, not criminalised.

Hours later, the force sought to "clarify" its position.

Initially, Detective Superintendent Susie Harper said: "If a child's mobile phone contract is in his or her parent's name, then the parent can be liable for what the phone is used for, and any indecent material that is saved or sent from it.

"That could mean police turning up at the family home with a search warrant, property being seized, potential arrests and innocent people being suspected of serious offences."

Her comments were published by the force as part of a press release warning of a growing trend of "bait out" pages on social media where young people are encouraged to share sexual images but are then shamed and bullied.

The release said: "Whilst the police do not wish to unnecessarily criminalise young people, this could potentially affect a child's reputation, education and future employment prospects, for example if they are named on a crime report or receive a caution or other criminal sanction."

On Wednesday afternoon Assistant Chief Constable Tony Blaker said: 'We recognise that our warning about the risk of parents becoming involved in a police investigation has given the wrong impression.

"Our priority is encouraging parents and children to have open conversations about this issue and our approach would be to avoid criminalising any child or the parent.

"Only in cases where there is evidence of children being coerced, exploited or blackmailed would we consider prosecution.

"It is important to clarify that whilst Kent Police is concerned about the number of offences being reported, the force is not looking to criminalise young people or their parents.

"We wish to raise the awareness of this trend with parents, as they often supply mobile phones and computer devices to their children and, as they may hold the contract to those phones or devices, they are often the first point of contact when police investigate criminal offences."

Press Association

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