Upskirting Becomes Criminal Offence As Scale Of Victims Revealed

12 April 2019, 08:59

Upskirting becomes a criminal offence
Upskirting becomes a criminal offence. Picture: PA

A pensioner and pupils as young as seven were among the increasing number of upskirting victims last year, police figures show.

Teenagers and pensions have been the victims of upskirting last year, new police figures show.

Victims were targeted in schools, in shops and even in the street during 2018, data obtained by the Press Association shows.

On Friday upskirting becomes a specific criminal offence, offenders can face up to two years in prison for taking an image or video under somebody's clothing in order to see their genitals or underwear.

The new law follows an 18-month campaign by 27-year-old Gina Martin, sought justice after two men took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017.

Ms Martin said: "During the 18 months of campaigning undertaken, I received hundreds of messages and stories from those who had been upskirted.

"It was obvious that we didn't have the tools to adequately paint a picture of what a big problem upskirting is, so I'm delighted that the Press Association has taken on the challenge of obtaining the first official stats on reports of upskirting.

"We hope that people continue to feel comfortable reporting upskirting under the new Voyeurism Act."

Data from Essex Police shows one suspect was charged with indecency after upskirt images of a child aged between seven and nine were discovered in his possession.

Also in Essex, a 70-year-old woman was among victims. But, the investigation ran into difficulties after the victim declined or was unable to identify the offender, despite a suspect being identified by police.

The figures show more than half of police forces in England and Wales, 25 out of 42, dealt with allegations of upskirting during 2018, an increase from just 15 forces in the two years previously.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said: "We have always been clear - there are no excuses for this behaviour and offenders should feel the full force of the law. From today, they will."