Voyeurism and ‘Upskirting’ – Government Acts to Strengthen Law
The Voyeurism (Offences) Bill completed its parliamentary journey on 15th January 2019. As the Act will create new criminal offences, the usual convention is that at least two months will pass before the offence comes in to force.
Why was this law passed?
This new law deals with ‘upskirting’, which is:
‘…the practice of taking a photograph up a person’s skirt or clothes without their consent.’
Parliament was told that:
“The law in England and Wales does not contain a specific criminal offence for upskirting, and the practice is currently prosecuted under one of two offences: outraging public decency (OPD) or voyeurism. OPD requires that an offence is: “lewd, obscene and disgusting to such an extent as to outrage minimum standards of decency”; two or more persons (excluding the perpetrator) must be present during the act or display, whether or not they are aware of the act or display or are outraged by it; and it must occur in a public place.
Alternatively, the voyeurism offence, stipulates that a person commits an offence where, for the purposes of sexual gratification he/she observes, operates equipment with the intention of enabling another person to observe or records a person doing a private act, knowing the person does not consent. The offence also covers installing equipment to to commit an offence of voyeurism.”
Concerns have been expressed that these laws are inadequate in response to upskirting due to the legal requirements necessary to bring about action within the scope of the 2 offences in place. As well asthe fact that neither of the two options is a sexual offence, any offender will avoid notification requirements (commonly referred to as being put on the sex offenders register).
So, what will change?
A new offence means that a person (A) commits an offence if they operate equipment beneath the clothing of another person (B) to allow either themselves or another person (C) to see person B’s genitals or buttocks or the underwear covering them, when they would otherwise not be visible. A second offence covers the same circumstances, but where the images are recorded.
For both offences the offence is committed if the actions were undertaken by person A without reasonably believing that B consented.
The new offences could be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court – with the maximum sentence being 6 months in the Magistrates’ Court or two years in the Crown Court
The new Act will also allow that in certain circumstances offenders could be placed on the sex offenders register. These circumstances are:
• For offenders aged over 18-years old: the offence was committed for sexual gratification and either the victim was under 18, or the offender has been sentenced to imprisonment; or detained in hospital; or made the subject of a community sentence of at least twelve months.
• For offenders aged under 18-years old: the offence was committed for sexual gratification and the offender is or has been sentenced to imprisonment for at least twelve months.
How Tuckers Solicitors can help you…
To discuss anything to do with voyeurism and upskirtingplease contact us on 020 7388 8333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly assist.
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