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04 Sep 2015

Danielle Reece-Greenhalgh discusses underage sexting and police discretion in the Daily Mail

Teenager is victim of ‘Soham Law’ after sending nude picture.

The schoolboy’s actions will remain on file for a century because police can decide who they prosecute but not what they record, legal experts say.

He committed a crime by creating and distributing an indecent image of a child. It does not matter that he was the subject and took the image himself.

The girl who circulated the image is not being investigated even though her actions could have fallen under ‘revenge pornography’ laws if she had been an adult.

Although police dropped the inquiry, once alerted to the crime they were obliged to record it under rigid procedures brought in following the Soham murders in 2002.

The Police National Database was created after Ian Huntley, who killed two ten-year-old girls, was able to work as a school caretaker because forces in Humberside and Cambridgeshire failed to share vital information that he had been accused of rape, indecent assault on an 11-year-old and sex with underage girls while living in Grimsby.

The database has since been used millions of times to cross-check information about suspects.

Lawyer Danielle Reece-Greenhalgh said the boy’s case highlights a basic unfairness in the system.

‘Police have discretion about what they charge and prosecute but they do not have discretion about what intelligence they record,’ she said.

‘As soon as police were involved they have got their obligation to act, when this could have been quite sensibly dealt with by the school.’

The schoolboy now faces having his actions disclosed to future employers if the information is deemed relevant.

However, Miss Reece-Greenhalgh said a police officer with full access to the facts may choose not to disclose the information to an employer.

‘They must assess the eligibility or suitability of the information they hold and whether it is relevant and should be disclosed,’ she said.

Read the full article on the Daily Mail here.


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