‘Upskirting’ law moves a step closer

‘Upskirting’ law moves a step closer

A new law making ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence will move a step closer today (21 June 2018), when a Government Bill is introduced in Parliament.

The move was confirmed by the Prime Minister earlier this week, after a government backed Private Members Bill (PMB) did not pass its second reading last Friday (15 June).

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said:

The support for this new law from the public, campaigners, and across parliament shows just how seriously this crime is being taken.

Upskirting is a humiliating and degrading practice. We will ensure this Bill becomes law as soon as possible to protect more victims and properly punish offenders.

It follows the work of campaigner Gina Martin, whose tireless efforts contributed hugely to this action:

The highly intrusive practice – colloquially known as ‘upskirting ’ – typically involves offenders taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks.

Currently, this behaviour is being successfully prosecuted under the offence of Outraging Public Decency. However, following concerns that potentially not all instances of ‘upskirting’ are covered by existing criminal law, the government decided to act.

Initially, ministers supported legislation brought forward by Wera Hobhouse MP to create a specific ‘upskirting’ offence. However, that PMB failed to progress in Parliament, following objections raised Sir Christopher Chope MP.

Ministers therefore decided to intervene and adopted the measures as a Government Bill, in order to make sure there will be no delay in getting this new law onto the statute books.

The Government Bill will build on Wera Hobhouse’s proposals, by ensuing that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders register. The new law would bring the punishment for ‘upskirting’ in line with other existing voyeurism offences, and will see offenders face a maximum of 2 years in prison.

The second reading of the Bill is expected to take place before Summer Recess.

 

Credit: Ministry of Justice (changes made to the original)

Image: Michael D Beckwith

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