As of the 12 April 2019, “Upskirting” is a criminal offence.
‘Upskirting’ is a colloquial term referring to the action of placing a camera or mobile phone beneath a person’s skirt to take a voyeuristic photograph without their permission.
Section 1 of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 inserts a new offence into Section 67A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 making ‘upskirting’ a criminal offence in England and Wales. This has now come into force, as of 12th April 2019.
It is now an offence for someone to operate equipment or record an image under another person’s clothing without that person’s consent or a reasonable belief in their consent, with the intention of looking at or enabling another person to look at that person’s genitals or buttocks (whether exposed or covered with underwear) where the purpose is to obtain sexual gratification or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm.
If found guilty of the offence, a person can be subject to a maximum of 2 years imprisonment. If the offence is committed for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification and other relevant conditions are met, the offender will be placed on the sex offenders register.
The idea behind the new specific offence is to ensure that the law now covers acts of ‘upskirting’ that were not previously caught under the umbrellas of voyeurism and outraging public decency.
Zoe Spencer is a trainee solicitor in our High Wycombe Office.
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