The Government has introduced a new Bill in Parliament that will make ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence.
The practice typically involves offenders taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks.
The Bill would insert a new offence under Section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The changes will cover England and Wales; ‘upskirting’ is already a specific offence in Scotland.
Currently, ‘upskirting’ does not go unpunished in England and Wales, and there have been successful prosecutions under the Outraging Public Decency (OPD) offence. Recent examples of successful prosecutions for ‘upskirting’ under OPD include someone who was convicted in January for taking photos up women’s skirts on trains and on a beach, and a student who was convicted in March for taking photos up women’s skirts in Oxford.
However, existing criminal law does not necessarily cover every instance of ‘upskirting.’ Creating a specific ‘upskirting’ offence would strengthen the law in this area, as it doesn’t have the same limitations as existing offences. It would also allow this intrusive behaviour to be treated as a sexual offence and ensure that the most serious offenders are made subject to notification requirements (commonly referred to as the ‘sex offenders register’).
A summary conviction would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a fine. And a more serious offence, tried in the Crown Court, would carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.
The second reading of the Bill is expected to take place before Summer Recess.
If you have been charged with a sexual offence then contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers today.