What will the police do about reported incidents of sexting?


Some incidents of sexting can be and should be reported to the police for different reasons. The police will always help you and your child and stop any harm coming to them in the first instance. As a police force we have to record any incidents of sexting that is reporting to us in line with National Crime Recording Standards.

What happens after this point depends on the situation itself.

If there are no ‘aggravating’ factors. This means the sexting your child has been involved in does not have any of the following;

  • There is not a big age difference between the people sending and receiving the images
  • They haven’t been pressurised or blackmailed into sending images
  • They haven’t been involved in incidents of sexting or other relevant offences before
  • No one involved is under the age of 13
  • No one involved is over the age of 18
  • There isn’t an intent to harm you and there is no violence involved
  • No one is making any money or profit from the images
  • There isn’t any signs of anyone being groomed

If this is the case the police have the power to use something called ‘Outcome 21’. Outcome 21 means the police has recorded this incident on a police system but will not be taking any further action in this case and will provide you and your child with information and support.

What does outcome 21 mean?

  • This does not mean that your child has a criminal record.
  • It does mean that your child’s information is on a policing system.
  • If your child does not have any other relevant offences/ incidents against them on a policing system, it is highly unlikely that this would be disclosed on Disclosure and Barring Service check when they were applying for a job or university for example.
  • This recorded incident (on its own) will not stop travel to different countries.

If there are ‘aggravating’ factors. This means the sexting your child has been involved in has one or more of the following;

  • There is a big age difference between the people sending and receiving the images
  • You have been blackmailed or pressurised into sending the image
  • You have been involved in incidents of sexting or other relevant offences before
  • Someone involved is under the age of 13
  • Someone involved is over the age of 18
  • There is a intent to cause harm or violence is involved
  • Someone is making money or profit from the image
  • There is signs of someone being groomed

If this happens the police will investigate this as they would any other crime. The outcome of this will depend on this investigation.

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