I write in connection with your request received in this office on 19th August.  I note you seek the following:

I am interested to find out how many ‘sexting’ cases involving young children were investigated by your force over the relevant period.

Please could you provide a breakdown of cases where the suspect is a child under the age of 14 for the following offences:

  • Take/ make/ distribute Indecent Photographs Or Pseudo-Photographs Of Children;
  • Possession of indecent photo or pseudo images of a child;
  • Possessing prohibited images of children.

For each case, please provide the age of the suspect, the offence type (including any additional detail on the incident) and also the outcome of the case (e.g. police caution or Outcome 21).

Please provide this data for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to 19 August 2019.

Having made enquiries within the Force we have supplied a document with information in regards suspects for crimes of:

Take/make/distribute indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children – 86/02

Possession of indecent photo or pseudo images of a child – 86/10

Possess prohibited images of children – 86/15

Please note this is the number of suspects so there will be duplicates where there is more than one suspect on any crime which fits your criteria however is should be noted that every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data. We would also rely on the following:

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1) (a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held.  The second duty at Section 1(1) (b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held.  Where exemptions are relied upon, Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act requires that I provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) state (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

Cleveland Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information relevant to your request as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemption:

Section 30(3) – Investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities

Section 30 is a class based qualified exemption and consideration must be given as to whether there is a public interest in neither confirming nor denying the information exists is the appropriate response.

Factors favouring confirming or denying whether any other information is held for Section 30

The public is entitled to know what their public funds are spent on. Investigations may be closed and any proceedings may have been completed, and the investigations may have been high profile and had national implications.

Factors against confirming or denying whether any other information is held for Section 30

By confirming or denying holding anymore information the force’s future law enforcement capabilities would be affected and this would hinder the prevention and detection of crime.

Balance test

The security of the country is of paramount importance and the Police service will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so could undermine National Security or compromise law enforcement. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing and providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by the criminal fraternity, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding both national security and the integrity of police investigations and operations in this area.

As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of national security this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances.

Our accountability is therefore not enhanced by confirming or denying whether any information is held. Therefore it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming or denying whether any information is held regarding these techniques is not made out. None of the above can be viewed as an inference that the information you seek does or does not exist.

Please note that all statistical data supplied in relation to Freedom of Information requests is a snapshot of data held at the time the request was received by the Freedom of Information office and is subject to constant change/updates.

The Cleveland Police response to your request is unique and it should be noted that Police Forces do not use generic systems or identical procedures to capture and record data therefore responses from Cleveland Police should not be used as a comparison with any other force response you receive.