1 in 6 reported to police for indecent images are under 18

Sexting may be a factor in the rise of children and young people involved in investigations

Laptop illustrationThe total number of offences reported to all 45 police forces across the UK has nearly tripled with:

  • 4,530 in 2013 rising to
  • 10,818 in 2015.

More than 2,000 children were among those reported to police for indecent images offences over the last 3 years, according to recent figures.

We're urging parents to talk to children about the risks of sexting and sharing nude selfies on social media as this may be partly fuelling the rise in offences by under-18s.

However children and young people reported to the police in these cases may also have been in possession of child abuse images. And the large rise in adults caught with indecent images of children shows demand for this material is still growing.

Areas where urgent action is needed

  • internet companies need to develop and share technological solutions – and make data about progress removing child abuse images publicly available
  • young people should be able to get nude selfies removed from the internet more easily
  • children and young people who have been abused need easier access to support to help them recover
  • offenders who are convicted must be offered treatment to reduce their future risk to children.

Talking to your children about sexting

Our survey recently revealed only half of parents knew that children taking nude selfies were committing a crime. And while 2 out of 5 parents fear their children will be involved in sexting, most haven't spoken to them about the risks.

With children increasingly worried about sexting, we're urging all parents to get the latest advice so they know what to do if their child has shared an explicit image of themselves or other young people.

Peter Wanless, CEOPeter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said:
"Over the last two decades, digital technology has fuelled an explosion in the production and consumption of child sexual abuse images that increasingly involves the streaming of live video.

"Committed leadership from government, and dedicated police operations have made a real difference. But the war on child abuse images is only just beginning. The internet industry must prioritise this issue by committing their expertise and work with the public and voluntary sector to find solutions."

"As well as pursuing and deterring adults who make and distribute these we must educate children about how to keep themselves safe online and offline and how to get help as soon as grooming or abuse happens. And every child who is the victim of exploitation and abuse should get the support they need to rebuild their lives."