British Transport Police sergeant asked 12-year-old girls on Snapchat to send him revealing photos

Sgt James Chatfield admitted attempting to send sexual messages to 12-year-old girls  (PA Archive)
Sgt James Chatfield admitted attempting to send sexual messages to 12-year-old girls (PA Archive)

A police sergeant who tried to send sexually explicit requests to 12-year-old girls while posing as a teenager on social media is facing jail.

James Chatfield, a London-based British Transport Police officer, used Snapchat and teen social media site Chat Avenue to send out messages, attempting to coax girls into sending him revealing selfies and suggesting sexual activity.

The sergeant believed he was messaging a 12-year-old girl when he asked her bra size and requested she “take your top off” for pictures. But he was actually in contact with an undercover police officer posing as the girl.

Chatfield, 36, claimed to be a 17-year-old boy in the chats, creating a fake profile for himself and telling another 12-year-old girl – again an undercover officer – that she had a “cute bum” and asking to visit her.

The officer asked her to wear revealing clothes, including a “see-through vest and mini skirt”, Westminster magistrates court heard.

The court was told Chatfield targeted girls on teenage-focused social media and the “general flavour (of the chats) turned sexual quite quickly”.

Letters in words such as “naughty” and “boobs” had been seperated out by Chatfield to dodge automatic filters on the social media platforms.

Chatfield pleaded guilty on Friday to two charges of attempted sexual communication with a child.

The court heard Chatfield send the messages from Waltham Forest, and he was caught thanks to an undercover operation by South Wales Police.

The first incident happened on September 23, when Chatfield sent a string of messages on Snapchat asking “can I ask what your bra size is?” and adding: “Do you have little boobs?”

He then said: “Would you like to show me?”, the court heard.

In the second incident three days later, Chatfield messaged on Chat Avenue referring to a “cute bum” and asking: “Can I come and feel it?”

He then turned the conversation to clothing, suggesting she wear “something small and revealing” and adding: “How about a see-through vest and mini skirt?”

The officer had used his mobile phone to verify his Snapchat account and was traced through his ip address.

District Judge Michael Snow sent the case to be sentenced at Southwark crown court on a date to be set.

Chatfield, who has been suspended by the British Transport Police, was set free on bail, on the condition he has no unsupervised contact with children, does not use online chatrooms to contact children, and lives at his home in Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.

In a statement following the guilty pleas, BTP Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Sutherland said: “As police officers it is our overriding duty to protect the public and particularly the vulnerable from harm, so it is profoundly disturbing to know that a serving officer could ever consider exploiting a child for their own sexual gain.

“I speak for everyone at British Transport Police when I say we are all truly shocked and appalled by the actions of James Chatfield. He does not represent our values and now he has been criminally convicted, we will be looking to fast track his disciplinary proceedings as soon as practicably possible.

“It is thanks to the swift and thorough investigation by our Professional Standards Department that Chatfield was arrested, charged, and brought before the courts to face justice within two months of these abhorrent offences.”