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New offence of 'upskirting' comes into force - expert comment

A new criminal offence of 'upskirting' comes into force today following a successful campaign by Gina Martin to change the law. Dr Laura Lammasniemi, Assistant Professor in Warwick Law School comments on the crime, and the wider problems of image and technology-based abuse:-

"Today upskirting became a criminal offence punishable by a maximum of two years’ imprisonment. Upskirting is the invasive practice of taking an image or video underneath or up someone’s clothing without their consent for the purposes of sexual gratification or to humiliate, alarm or distress the person. The overwhelming majority of those impacted by upskirting, as with most sexual offences, are women and girls.

"Criminalising upskirting is a welcome step, and a sign that Parliament is finally recognising and responding to the pervasiveness of the harm image-based abuse can cause. For the victims, it is the enduring nature of this offence that is often the most distressing, in particular the lack of control over images, how widely they are shared and who can view them. Existing criminal law on sexual offences is simply not equipped to deal with new image and technology based abuse, and a wider review on the issue, that goes beyond focusing on individual offences such as upskirting and revenge porn, would be welcome.

"This will hopefully lead to a wider public discussion on respect of privacy and new forms of sexual harassment in light of rapid technological advancement. Whether upskirting will have better enforcement and prosecution rates than revenge porn, criminalised in 2014, remains to be seen, but criminalisation has clearly already sparked a public discussion on upskirting and the limits of acceptable behaviour."

12 April 2018




Sheila Kiggins

Media Relations Manager

Social Science

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