REVEALED: Revenge porn victims include girls as young as 14

Police have warned youngsters they could be prosecuted for sending nude pictures of themselves
Police have warned youngsters they could be prosecuted for sending nude pictures of themselves
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Sexually explicit images of Lancashire teens as young as 14 have been posted on the internet in acts of ‘revenge porn’.

Almost 30 people have told police their nude photos were published online against their wishes since doing so became illegal in April, a Gazette investigation has revealed.

Just one person has so far faced justice under the new law – a caution – although police said some cases were still being investigated.

Global red tape, shady websites hosted outside the UK, and a lack of police funding have been blamed for the lack of prosecutions, which has been labelled ‘worrying and alarming’ by one revenge porn victim.

The mum of a 14-year-old Fylde schoolgirl described how a revealing picture going viral ruined her daughter’s life.

She said: “It has been the worst time of all our lives. She made a simple mistake, a silly one, but one that has come back to haunt her in a huge way.

“She took one picture and sent it to a boy she thought was more than a friend. But days later it was round the entire school and online.

“Every one of her friends knew, her teachers knew, and our family and friends knew.

“She didn’t want to show her face at school. She was mortified. Her friends were strong but there was a lot of nastiness towards her; words said about my daughter I never wanted to hear.

“It ruined her life for months – our lives – but we slowly got it back together.”

Of the 26 cases reported in Lancashire, four victims were under the age of 18, which means any pictures or videos could also be classed as child abuse images.

Most of the others were in their 20s, three were in their 30s, while two were in their 40s.

The age of four others is not known, Lancashire Police said in a response to a Freedom of Information request.

Folami Prehaye set up the Victims of Internet Crime website (VOIC.org.uk) after her ex-partner uploaded intimate pictures to a fake Facebook page.

She told The Gazette: “It’s alarming but not surprising to see Lancashire victims under the age of 21 being caught up in this crime.

“The worrying factor is the amount of reported incidents at 26, against perpetrators either arrested, charged, or whom may remain on bail – alarmingly only one.

“More needs to be done to deal with this ‘new technology crime’ that causes distress beyond comprehension and leaves many contemplating taking their own lives.

“Revenge porn is on the rise and it seems there is a commonality among our police forces; that reported offences are not correlating with arrested perpetrators or many being taken to court.”

Det Supt Sue Clarke, head of the Lancashire Police’s Public Protection Unit, urged people to consider where their selfies might end up before taking them, and warned those under the age of 18 they could face prosecution under child abuse laws – even if the pictures are of themselves.

She said: “The law is quite clear on ‘sexting’ and police and the criminal justice system are taking it more seriously than ever in a bid to try and minimise young people exploiting themselves.

“It is illegal to take, possess, or share ‘indecent images’ of anyone under the age of 18 even if you’re the person in the picture.”

Net giant Google has taken steps to remove revenge porn sites showing in search results, but many are hosted outside the UK, meaning they may not be legally obligated to remove images.

Some rely purely on revenge porn images to make money, meaning they are reluctant to remove them at all.

However, filing a copyright claim – those who took the snaps own the rights to them – is one route to getting them removed, Det Supt Clarke said. “If you have found images of you on a website, you should contact the owner and ask them to remove it. Mentioning you are the copyright holder may persuade scrupulous website owners to take it down.”

Revenge porn can be reported to police by calling 101.

The Revenge Porn Helpline can be called on 0845 6000 459 or emailed on help@revengepornhelpline.org.uk.