Mend and Make-do: What Protection Does the Existing Law Offer Victims of ‘Upskirting’?

11th July 2018

Mend and Make-do: What Protection Does the Existing Law Offer Victims of ‘Upskirting’?

Efforts to make upskirting a crime in its own right – and punishable with a two-year prison sentence – were dashed when an MP objected to the legislation.

Prime Minister Theresa May admitted she was disappointed with the failure of the campaign to criminalise the practice of photographing underneath a person’s clothing without their consent after Conservative MP Christopher Chope vetoed the bill.

Mrs May has pledged that the Government will attempt to re-introduce the legislation again at a later date.

Secretly photographing underneath a skirt is already a specific offence in Scotland.

However, while there is no such offence in England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice says upskirting is already covered by alternative avenues of prosecution – although there have only been a handful of charges related to the practice since 2015.

Figures revealed in February showed that girls as young as 10 have been targeted by perpetrators taking illicit photographs under their clothing, commonly using phones or hiding cameras in public places.

Police are not required to record incidents under current rules, leaving the true scale of the practice unknown, and just 15 of 44 forces in England and Wales had allegations of upskirting on file in the past two years.

As there is no law specifically naming and banning upskirting, victims and police are presently only able to pursue offences of voyeurism or indecency.

Campaigners say the current situation resembles that of revenge porn: the practice of posting online explicit material without the subject’s consent, which was only made illegal in April 2015, after a national campaign.

So what protection does the existing law offer victims?

– Voyeurism only applies to filming actions taking place in private
– Outraging public decency usually requires someone to have witnessed the action but upskirting is often unobserved – it may be only discovered later because footage ends up on the internet
– It also has to take place in public – some spaces like schools might not count as public
– And unlike other sexual offences, people don’t have an automatic right to anonymity.

Upskirting takes place in a wide variety of public spaces, including nightclubs, shops and restaurants – with mobile phones frequently used and young women disproportionately targeted.

The issue also raises questions for employers as to their legal and moral responsibilities if a member of staff falls victim. Creating practical policies around the use of phones and other devices in the workplace, while also ensuring thought is given as to how any allegations will be investigated is sound practice. A supportive and compassionate environment for those who raise complaints is also important.

How can Gotelee help?

If you need guidance on the protection the law offers, our criminal lawyers can help.

Either visit us at one of our offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe or Woodbridge, or call 01473 298140.

Partner
Practice Areas
Accident and Personal Injury Claims
Criminal Law Solicitors
Regulatory
Blog Posts

Ignorance over asbestos threat putting workers’ lives at risk

09/05/2018

Uncertainty and ignorance surrounding the dangers of exposure to asbestos could be putting the…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Gotelee Legal Walk

07/06/2018

Gotelee Solicitors are walking the Ipswich Legal Walk on behalf of the Eastern Legal…

Read More
News Posts

Johnson and Johnson ordered to pay $4bn over talc products linked to cancer

17/07/2018

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay out $4.69 billion (£3.57…

Read More

Testimonials

"Approachable, very efficient, always willing to take my calls and update me."

- SH

"We were very pleased to have Jade as our solicitor, the service was excellent and we felt kept in the loop which minimised stress"

- CT

"I have used Tracey Laflin at Gotelee on a number of occasions and in my opinion, she is simply the most efficient conveyancing solicitor I have ever worked with. From the outset, she took the time to understand my specific business requirements and to date, she has exceeded all of my expectations."

- Dale Fiddy - Portobello Developments Ltd

"I don't think this house sale would have pulled together without Jo's determination and expertise. Excellent!"

- MT

"Jade Shelton was absolutely fantastic!! Professional and proactive at all times."

- JH

"This is by far the go-to firm for any issues. You are made to feel valued from the outset and they are so confident in what they do. Wouldn't recommend any other. Thank you Hugh and Max."

- Ros Jones

"Domini was very fast and efficient in carrying out her work for me - she was also very good at explaining things to me"

-

"Prompt, helpful, polite and very professional service"

-

"The ease that we could access and speak to Pat Smith - Thank you"

-

"We found Rachel Dawson outstanding, polite, professional and caring."

-

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact.