Child aged 13 and pensioner aged 71 among revenge porn victims as cases more than treble in South Yorkshire

Revenge porn cases investigated by South Yorkshire police more than trebled over two years – with victims aged from just 13 to 71.

Figures released by the force following a Freedom of Information request show that in 2017-18 there were 53 cases investigated. But in 2018-19 that figure had mushroomed to 189.

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But only 10 cases in 2018-19 went to court, with two dealt with through a police caution and six through a ‘community resolution’.

File picture of a mobile phone

The figures show cases where private sexual photographs or films were shown to other people with the intention of causing distress to the victims.

In 87 of the 2018-19 cases, the case was dropped because even though a suspect had been identified, there were issues over the evidence or the victims decided against taking further action.

Officers also revealed the youngest age of a victim over the two year period was a child aged just 13, while the oldest was a pensioner aged 71.

Another five were aged just 15 and 51 of the victims were teenagers.

The largest number of victims were aged 21, with 19 cases recorded. A total of 136 were aged in their 20s, which was the largest group, with 35 victims aged in their 30s and 16 aged in their 40s. Four were aged in their 50s.

In October 2020, a Sheffield man was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court after a judge was told he had shared intimate pictures of his girlfriend after they split up and went on to ask an underage girl for nude photos of herself. He was not named for legal reasons.

He sent the pictures to two of her housemates, and a screenshot of that message to her saying “thanks for nothing”.

He was sentenced to 16 months in prison, given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the Sexual Offenders Register for 10 years.

Det Supt Becs Horsfall said: “The impact of revenge porn can be devastating and sharing a sexual image of someone without their consent is never acceptable.

"When offences are reported, we will always review the evidence alongside the needs, vulnerability and desires of the victim.

"Each case is reviewed and assessed individually, with a focus on supporting and safeguarding the victim. Due to the sensitivities around these cases, the views of the victim are always prioritised when determining a course of action.

"A common outcome is to caution an individual, as we often find this to be the preferred option for victims. We will, however, seek to prosecute individuals where this is considered an appropriate course of action. A successful prosecution carries a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment and serves as a deterrent to anyone thinking of publishing images with intent to cause distress.

"If you or someone you love has been impacted by revenge porn, please come forward to police to report it. We have specialist officers who work tirelessly with our partner agencies to offer an array of support options.

"We would urge caution to anyone allowing someone to capture their image, or who is considering sharing sexual photographs of themselves, to consider the impact it may have if the images are released to a wider audience. By sharing your images you lose control of what happens to them in the future.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor