A 14-year-old boy has been added to a UK police intelligence database for using Snapchat to send a naked picture of himself to a female classmate he was flirting with from his bedroom. She saved the image and shared it with others, which is how the case came to light. Although the boy was not arrested or charged, the incident was nonetheless recorded as a crime of “making and distributing an indecent image of a child,” even though it was of himself. As The Guardian reports, “the [database] file remains active for a minimum of 10 years, meaning the incident may be flagged to potential employers conducting an advanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, such as for those who work with children.”
A BBC radio report on the Today programme points out that had the boy been formally accused of a crime, he would have been granted all the usual protections guaranteed by law. Instead, when he was questioned about the incident at his school with a police officer present, his parents were not informed, and there was no one defending the teenager, or even advising him about the implications of the interrogation and his answers to questions. The police officer later claimed that it was not necessary to inform parents beforehand in such circumstances, and that she had the power to deal with the matter on the spot.
As well as losing basic defence rights in this way, the boy doubly suffered because of his young age: possessing or distributing indecent images of a person under 18 is illegal, even, apparently, if they’re of yourself. And, perhaps more intriguingly, had he been an adult, then the sharing of his naked image by others at his school would have been classed as revenge porn and he would have been protected as a victim.
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