TEENAGERS have been warned of the hidden dangers of “sexting”.

The trend sees people send sexually explicit pictures or messages to friends via mobile phones and has been in the public eye recently after scandals featuring high-profile celebrities such as TV presenters Vernon Kay and Jason Manford.

Youngsters often send the unsavoury texts as a joke, however, a Worcester solicitor said it could lead to them receiving a criminal record.

Gary Harper, of Hamer Childs solicitors, said teenagers often did not realise they could be breaking the law if they downloaded messages featuring pictures of under 18s.

The law bans anyone from owning, making (which includes downloading) or distributing indecent images of children.

The serious offence is punishable by imprisonment and if convicted, sexters could even find themselves having to register on the sex offenders register.

Mr Harper said offences normally came to light if friends fell out, if images were forwarded to others who found them offensive or if parents discovered the messages.

He said: “What seems like a joke at the time or a bit of fun in terms of embarrassing a friend could well come back to haunt those involved.

“At worse this could involve a prosecution by the police which could have knock-on effects for years to come in terms of any Criminal Records Bureau checks that might be done by employers.

“Where a person is cautioned at the police station and even if they are neither cautioned nor prosecuted, such a matter could still show on a CRB check.

“Automatically, this would prohibit a young person from working with children in the future as well as a whole host of other occupations.

The message for young people is really quite simple – don’t do it.”