No Further Action in Youth Indecent Image Case

By Admin in Latest News on

PCD Solicitors have successfully secured no further action for two youths accused of the possession and distribution of indecent images of children. The images in question was purported to be a photograph of someone they knew.  

The youths being only 14 were arrested by police at their home address, their devices were seized and they were taken to the police station put into a police cell and then interviewed under caution for the suspected offences. 

Being only children themselves we could only imagine the terrifying ordeal of being arrested and taken off to the police station for such a serious offence was for them. From the moment we were instructed we explained the law, defences and what stuck out of particular importance to us in this case, was the police handling of the investigation. 

The arrest 

S24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) largely governs the powers of arrest provided to police officers. Under this section police officers have powers of arrest without warrant in respect of any offence in the following circumstances:

  1. A police officer can arrest anyone who is about to commit an offence, or whom they have reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence.
  2. A police officer can arrest anyone who is in the act of committing, or whom they have reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an offence. 
  3. If a police officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting than an offence has been committed, they may arrest any person whom the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty of it. Alternatively, if an offence has been committed, a police officer may arrest anyone who is guilty of the offence or anyone whom the officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it. 

The officers in this case relied on point 3. They suspected that an offence had been committed and arrested the youths they had reasonable grounds to suspect were guilty of the said offence. 

The officers did not have a warrant to seize any devices in this case however, the officers can seize the devices of an arrested person where necessary. 

In 2016 the police were issued guidance on offences concerning the possession of indecent images and distribution of the images between youths. This guidance specifically states that “sending experienced first responders, safer school officers or neighbourhood teams can be a better way of dealing with the issue rather than arresting and criminalising youths”. In deciding whether to arrest a youth, police officers must take into account their age in determining whether an arrest is necessary and should seek to time any arrest appropriately in order to minimise the youths time in custody. 

Where possible in the cases of a youth the police should always take a different course of action than an arrest. An arrest even without a prosecution can severely damage a persons ability to obtain future employment and with consideration to the age of the suspects in this case, their ability to take up further education should they wish to. 

An arrest would result in details of the allegations, regardless of the outcome, remaining on the youth’s police record. Even if a matter is not prosecuted, an enhanced DBS check in the future could result in information relating to the investigation being disclosed to prospective employers. 

It is important when a youth is suspected of a criminal offence their solicitor deals with the case with the view of preventing an arrest to ensure records are not made that may affect their future. Any interviews proposed to be conducted by officers should always be aimed to be done on a voluntary basis. 

The detention 

Code C of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 recognises and makes special provision for the treatment of youth suspects. In this case PCD Solicitors made reference specifically to paragraph 8.8 of Code C that states a youth should not be placed in a police cell unless no other secure accommodation is available and the custody officer considers that it is not practicable to supervise the youth if they are not placed in a cell. 

We raised this concern with the police and requested custody records of both youths. 

The treatment of youths and vulnerable suspects is extremely important in a police custody environment. The police are under a duty in discharging their function to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This does not mean the police cannot arrest and detain children, however they must actively consider their welfare at all times throughout the investigative process. 

The offence

The offence of possession and or distribution of indecent images of children is a serious offence,  not only can it carry a custodial sentence but those convicted or even cautioned are required to become a registered sex offender and can be made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order. In youth cases it is very important a specialist lawyer is instructed to provide advice and consider the evidence in the case with a view to prevent as much damage as possible to the reputation of any suspect. 

PCD Solicitors raised all concerns with the police about the damage caused to two 14 year old children, their reputation and the impact on their future. This case was discontinued within seven days of our involvement. 

If you are a youth or a parent, guardian, carer of a child who is facing a police investigation for a sexual offence, please contact one of out specialist lawyers today for free initial advice.