Upskirting officially a crime after activist's campaign

12 Apr 2019

On Friday 12th April 2019, the crime of upskirting was recognised in England and Wales law for the first time, following the Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill received its Royal Assent.

The offence of upskirting takes place when:

  • Without consent, a person takes pictures beneath a person's clothing to observe their genitals or buttocks, whether covered or uncovered by underwear
  • The offender has a motive of either gaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim

Previously, offenders could only be prosecuted for the crimes of voyeurism or outraging public decency.

But voyeurism only applies to filming 'in private', while outraging public decency usually requires a witness. Upskirting usually takes place in public spaces but is often unobserved so these prosecution requirements are rarely met.

Those found guilty of upskirting under the new law face up to two years in prison.

This legal change came about as a result of considerable campaigning efforts by activists including Gina Martin, who experienced upskirting at a music festival in 2017.

Gina Martin said:

"To the outsider, the ordinary person, law and politics are complex and daunting. But both are penetrable if you believe in yourself and find the right support."

On behalf of Rape Crisis England & Wales, Katie Russell said:

"Rape Crisis is delighted upskirting has now been formally recognised in law. We hope this will act as some deterrent to those inclined to commit this increasingly common sexual offence.

Today's victory is a reminder  of the power of campaigning to change the world for the better. Our gratitude, respect and solidarity go to Gina Martin and all those who have worked towards this important change."

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