There has been a great deal in the news recently about 'upskirting'; with a new law specifically banning the practice coming into force on the 12th April. What is it all about and why has the law changed?
Partner Hannah Jones explains that upskirting typically involves someone taking a photograph under another person’s clothing without their knowledge and/or permission, with the intention of capturing an image viewing their genitals or buttocks (with or without underwear). It can take place in a range of public places, for example, the British Transport Police have seen a recent rise of reports of the practice on public transport.
The new law is designed to capture instances where the purpose of the behaviour is to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm. Anyone, and any gender, can be a victim of this behaviour.
Perpetrators will face up to two years in prison. Upskirting, where committed to obtain sexual gratification, can also result in the most serious offenders being placed on the sex offenders register.
Victims of upskirting should report and instances to the police. It’s important for victims to know their rights and remedies after a crime has taken place and the police will be in a good position to talk people through this. Victims will be entitled to automatic protection, for example from being identified in the media (so the media won’t be able to publish any identifying details such as names, addresses or photos).
Upskirting has not gone unpunished in England and Wales up to now - depending on the circumstances it has already been prosecuted under the common law offence of outraging public decency. However, following concerns expressed by victims, a review of the law found that the existing criminal law may not have been able to capture all instances.
The Voyeurism Offences Act, which was commonly known as the Upskirting Bill, was introduced into the House of Commons on 21st June 2018 and it comes into force on 12 April 2019. Hannah comments “The new law will send a clear message that such behaviour is criminal and will not be tolerated”.
If you would like assistance in relation to an offence against your person, call Hannah on 02392 820747 for further information