09:57, February 20 372 0 theguardian.com

2018-02-20 09:57:05
Campaigners call for 'upskirting' law for England and Wales

The government has said the law around “upskirting” – taking intimate pictures underneath a victim’s clothes – is under review, after calls for more protection for victims.

It emerged recently that children as young as 10 have been victims of upskirting, with police recording 78 cases in the past two years, according to a freedom of information request by the Press Association. But only one-third of police forces in England and Wales held data on upskirting, suggesting the real figure could be much higher. Taking upskirting or “downblousing” images is already illegal in Scotland.

Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and an expert on sexual violence, said the government’s response was “manifestly failing victims”. Perpetrators can be threatened with outraging public decency, which relied on others’ view of the offence rather than the victim’s, she said, adding that a lack of anonymity also prevented women coming forward.

The inability to classify upskirting as an offence hindered the ability of police forces to record upskirting and take action to tackle it, said Sarah Green of the End Violence Against Women Coalition.

“Mobile phones have had a huge impact on the scale and types of offences committed against women and girls over the last few years, and it is critical that the law and chief constables keep up with this,” she said. “The law should be urgently examined in this area.”

The Conservative MP Maria Miller, the chair of the women and equalities select committee, said new laws could help tackle the “horrific crime of upskirting”, as they had done in the case of the law specifically against “revenge pornography”, which leads to 500 prosecutions annually.

The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, said: “The government is failing to do everything possible to protect the victims of this disgraceful, intrusive and abusive practice.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “This behaviour is a violation of privacy and causes considerable distress for victims.

“Prosecutors have a range of powers to deal with these cases. We continue to keep legislation under constant review to ensure we can bring offenders to justice.”


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