Responding to news that the Government is to introduce a Bill this week to make upskirting a specific criminal offence, APCC Victims Lead, Dame Vera Baird QC PCC said:
“We welcome the news that the Government is to introduce a Bill this Thursday to make the invasive and appalling practice of upskirting a sexual offence.
“Over the last year the APCC has called for action on this issue as the law, as it stands, is far from clear as there is no specific offence relating to the taking of pictures of this kind without the victims knowledge or consent.
“Whilst there have been a few successful prosecutions, these have relied on a combination of particular circumstances and the use by the police of arcane public nuisance laws. However, these prosecutions are few and far between because they rely on the police not only being aware of the possibility of using arcane public nuisance laws, but then using them to deal with this modern type of offending.”
“It would be even better if the government tackled all emerging technological offences, by criminalising a simple offence of ‘image-based sexual abuse’, as proposed by Clare McGlynn at Durham University Law School to cover threats to create and distribute as well as the creation and distribution of sexual images without consent Police would thus have a flexible way to take immediate action on emerging forms of abuse and would send a clear message that any form of online/technology-based abuse is unacceptable.”
APCC Deputy Victims Lead, Marc Jones PCC added:
“It is our view that “upskirting” should be characterised as sexual offending. It is only creating a specific sexual offence covering the practice of this sort of behaviour that we can provide the police with more of the tools they need to help bring perpetrators of these appalling acts to justice.
“There has been considerable effort gone in to ensuring that the Government fully understands this issue and how beneficial this change will be – in my role as deputy victims lead I have met with the Justice Secretary and relevant Home Office Minister in order to push for this.
“This is a real step forward as an updated law would also raise public consciousness around this issue and send a clear message that these acts are completely unacceptable.”