Debrief Staff | Contributing Writer | Monday, 18 September 2017

12-Year-Old Could Face Charges After Paedophile Coerced Her Into Sending Topless Photo

12-Year-Old Could Face Charges After Paedophile Coerced Her Into Sending Topless Photo

The Debrief: Officers reportedly warned the girl she could face a criminal record after she was groomed online

Child exploitation officers reportedly told a 12-year-old girl she could face criminal charges after a paedophile coerced her into sending a topless photo of herself.

According to the Sunday Mirror, the girl was groomed by an anonymous Instagram user who bombarded her with explicit messages and requests for photographs.

After initially refusing, she sent an image via her iPad before ending the exchange. Her mother then discovered the messages and contacted the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre which told to report the messages to the police. 

The police opened an investigation and according to the Mirror, a CEOP officer then warned the girl that she could face a criminal record for sending the image.   

This is because creating and sharing explicit images of children is a criminal offence, regardless of the person’s age. 

The victim’s mother was shocked to learn this. She told the Mirror: ‘She’s the victim. She was coerced into sending it. There’s a paedophile out there yet they’re talking about criminalising a little girl. She’s scared, upset, worrying about what is going to happen and I’m questioning if I did the right thing in reporting it.’

The girl and her mother are now waiting to find out if criminal charges will be brought against her. 

The mother said: 'My child is a victim of grooming but now she might be branded a criminal. If this is happening it could put other parents off reporting abuse. How many people actually knew this was the law?’

The National Crime Agency, which runs the CEOP, said it was unlikely that charges will be pursued. A NCA spokesperson told the Mirror that the police have to record the crime in line with Home Office counting rules but further action may not be taken. 

The spokesperson said: ‘[The police] have discretion not to take formal action if it isn’t in the public interest to do so. Police are encouraged to take a common sense approach that does not criminalise children unnecessarily.’ 

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Tags: Sexual Assault