Upskirting offenders could face two years in jail under new law

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Upskirting is to become a specific criminal offence in England and Wales after the government gave its support to a change in the law.

The new law would see offenders face a maximum of two years in prison.

Victims of upskirting – secretly photographing underneath a skirt – currently have to seek prosecution through other legal avenues.

Upskirting victim Gina Martin, who began the campaign for a law change, welcomed the “great news”.

Ms Martin started the campaign after two men took a picture up her skirt while she was at a concert in London’s Hyde Park last July.

Police said they were unable to prosecute as the picture was not graphic enough because she was wearing underwear.

She said: “I want to hug every woman who has got in touch with me to say it’s happened to them, to say that now – hopefully – we can get access to justice for all victims because the politicians listened.

“There’s still a way to go, but it looks now like it will go through without too much of a hitch.”

‘Proper punishment’

Justice minister Lucy Frazer confirmed the government would back a private member’s bill making it illegal.

She said: “This behaviour is a hideous invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed.

“By making upskirting a specific offence, we are sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, and that perpetrators will be properly punished.”

Upskirting is due to form part of the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill – introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse.

The bill, which has received cross-party support, will receive its second reading in the Commons on Friday and will then need to pass through the House of Lords before it becomes an Act of Parliament.

Ms Hobhouse said she was “incredibly” grateful to Ms Martin for starting the campaign.

She added: “We all made the case for common sense. Now if someone is to fall victim to upskirting, the law will recognise them as the victim, and the police will be able to act immediately.”

As there is no law specifically naming and banning upskirting in England and Wales, victims and police are currently only able to pursue offences of outraging public decency or as a crime of voyeurism.

Upskirting has been an offence in Scotland since 2010 when it was listed under the broadened definition of voyeurism.

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BBC News – UK Politics

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