Children from West Yorkshire as young as 12 are falling victim to so-called ‘revenge porn’ in which private sexual photographs are shared.

Figures from West Yorkshire Police have revealed that the total number of reported crimes in 2016-17 was 160, up from 117 the previous year. The youngest victim was just 12 and the eldest 61.

The previous year the youngest victim was 14, the eldest 55, according to West Yorkshire Police.

Although the gender of the victim was not disclosed, previous figures from West Yorkshire revealed that the vast majority of victims are women.

The latest figures have prompted a warning from the charity NSPCC which has urged parents to have regular conversations with their children about online safety.

An NSPCC spokesman said it was “shocking” that children aged 12 were becoming victims.

Half of adults don't know social media age restrictions

Police said the number of convictions for disclosing private sexual photographs and films had fallen from 11 to six over the same period while the number of people who had been charged also fell, from 17 to 12.

A police spokesman said: “West Yorkshire Police understands the consequences of this offence on a victim can be significant and where instances occur where this offence is made out specialist officers situated within our dedicated Safeguarding Units will ordinarily carry out these type of investigations.

“We are dedicated in our approach towards protecting vulnerable persons regardless of the cause and will continue to take rigorous action against those guilty of such offences.”

A spokesman for the children’s charity NSPCC said social media sites needs to urgently address issues of safety.

NSPCC logo

The spokesman said: “It is shocking that young children are becoming victims of revenge porn – and underlines the urgent need for action by social media sites to improve safety.

“We urge parents to have regular conversations with their children about what they’re doing online, and who they’re speaking to.

How can we stop children being groomed by paedophiles online?

“Young people also need to be made aware of the serious risks of sending explicit material or photos of themselves.

“Once an image is sent there is no way of controlling where it will end up or who will see it.

“Anyone who is concerned about their child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, and any child who is worried about anything – including revenge porn – can contact Childline at any time on 0800 11 11 or at www.childline.org.uk .”

A new law, which came into force in April 2015, makes it a specific offence to share intimate pictures online without consent. There is a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment if convicted.

The latest West Yorkshire figures followed a Freedom of Information request.