Sexting under the law of Scotland

At present, “sexting” in Scotland could be prosecuted under one of many  statutes and is a complex issue. It is a growing problem amongst children and adults alike. Cyber-enabled crime is one of the fastest growing sectors of crime today.

Our CEO, Mary Sharpe, is a Member of the Faculty of Advocates and of the College of Justice with experience of criminal law on both the prosecution and defence sides. She is currently on the non-practising list while she runs the charity. She is happy to speak to parents, schools and other organisations about the practical implications of a brush with the law.

Criminal law in Scotland is different from the law in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Law officers treat complaints of what academics and journalists call “sexting” like any other potential crime and on an individual basis. Children under 16 will be referred to the Children’s Hearing System.

If convicted of a sexual offence, the range of sentences are wide and will include notification on the Sex Offenders Register for those 16 years and over. The practical impact of a conviction on employment, social life and travel for someone under and over 16 are enormous and little understood.

As cyberbullying and sexual harassment become more prevalent, prosecution authorities are taking a more proactive approach. Teachers, parents and children need to inform themselves of the risks. The Reward Foundation is developing lesson plans for schools about the law in this area. If you are interested, please contact our CEO at for more information.

This is a general guide to the law and does not constitute legal advice.

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