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Increase in police investigations of revenge pornography allegations

Increase in police investigations of revenge pornography allegations. Photo: PA

An investigation has found that police are tackling the largest ever volume of revenge porn cases, with victims ranging from 11-year-olds to pensioners.

Police forces have recorded a significant rise in allegations since the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) issued new guidelines on dealing with the cruel craze back in October.

Revenge porn, which involves sharing explicit or sexual images without the subject's consent.

Information from police forces in England and Wales show the majority of criminal allegations featuring revenge porn involved victims aged under 30, with eight female complainants for every one male, while the overwhelming number of cases involved former partners.

Campaigners have welcomed the statistics as an indicator revenge porn, which became a criminal offence in April, is finally being taken seriously.

These statistics show it is likely that awareness of so-called revenge pornography has grown and that victims likely feel more confident that this crime will be taken seriously if reported. We urge the police and courts to continue the pursuit of those who commit this horrible offence.

– Sarah Green, acting director of the End Violence Against Women coalition

Last year, the Press Association investigation found children as young as 11 had been victims of revenge pornography, with their perpetrators evading justice due to loopholes in the law.

Revenge porn is a particularly nasty crime and we have been bringing successful cases to court for some years under existing legislation.

The term was included in CPS legal guidance, as it became apparent this type of offending was growing, in order to make it clear to police and prosecutors which legislation could be used to prosecute.

The new offence has added to the powers available to prosecutors, and the CPS will use this legislation to bring the strongest possible cases to court.

– CPS spokesman

They were among 149 incidents collated by just eight police forces between January 2012 and June 2014. It prompted the CPS to publish new guidelines on how police could deal with revenge pornography offences within existing legislation, before it became law in its own right.

New figures obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws now show 14 forces recorded a total of 139 revenge porn allegations in the six months to April 2015. These included ten victims under the age of consent, while two were aged in their 60s.

There was also a rise in police action - from six people being cautioned or charged from January 2012 to June 2014, to 13 charged during the most recent period, although many said cases had not yet reached a conclusion. Before April, people could be prosecuted under harassment and indecency laws.

A total of 14 police forces provided the Press Association with details of revenge porn cases. They were: Cheshire, Dyfed Powys, Essex, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Leicestershire, Merseyside, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, South Wales, Thames Valley and West Yorkshire.

The remaining forces either had no record of any complaints, or refused to provide data due to FoI time limits.