NSW Police have admitted to mistakenly emailing partial images of child pornography to 1800 government school principals across the state.
Assistant commissioner Graeme Morgan, commander of state crime command at NSW Police, said the images were emailed in good faith to the Department of Education and the incident was a result of human error.
“This is a very unfortunate incident and we deeply regret it happened. A full internal investigation is underway.”
Police believed the children in the images were at serious risk, according to a statement from NSW Police. They haven't been able to find out where the photos were taken, or if the girls are resident in NSW.
Inadequate software was used to crop the images leaving the full images embedded in the file, Morgan said. “This resulted in pornographic material being accidentally sent to the Department for distribution to school principals in an effort to identify the children at risk.”
Police intended only the faces of the three young girls to be viewed by the principals, he said.
Morgan said immediate steps had been taken to recall all unopened emails. "Police have disseminated an urgent request that all unopened files be deleted and any images printed destroyed."
Eighty percent of the emails had been opened with the vast majority viewing only the intended images, according to the statement. Morgan said that five school principals had been able to access the full image.
A 30 year old Cessnock man was allegedly found in possession of the photographs, and has been charged with possession of child pornography.