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‘Upskirting’ – anonymity for complainants

AFTER a long campaign, the offence of ‘upskirting’ finally received the Royal Assent and became law on February 12.

It will come into effect two months from that date, so from April 12 it will be possible for people to be charged and prosecuted for the offence under The Voyeurism Offences Act 2019. Someone committing this offence can face up to two years in prison.

This change in the law came as a result of  a campaign by Gina Martin, who was a victim of this when she was at a festival in 2017.

The offence includes taking or recording an image for sexual gratification or to cause humiliation, alarm or distress – so this covers those who capture such imagery ‘for a laugh.’ The law does not specify a male or female victim, and can be committed against any ‘person.’

This is a sexual offence and it is an extension to the offence of voyeurism as set out in Section 67 of The Sexual Offences Act 2003.

This means that complainants in this offence have anonymity under Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992.

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Note that the anonymity applies as soon as ‘an allegation has been made’. Very often that will be to the police, but the law does jot actually specify that it has to be to a police officer. So a complainant can be anonymous as soon as they report the matter to a friend, doctor, teacher – in effect any third party.

The law says that ‘no matter’ should be included in any publication that would identify them as a victim of this offence. Any publication would include social media.

Anyone reporting this offence needs to take care. Complainants have automatic anonymity as soon as they report the offence to anyone.

Anonymity is not simply about keeping a person’s name, address, or picture out of a report. It requires you to remove any detail that might allow someone who knows them to identify them from what you publish.

Complainants can waive their anonymity, such a waiver should be obtained in writing and without any duress.

Little addendum to the above. It would now seem that the upskirt photo, as practised by a certain section of celebrity photographer, often when the subject is exiting or entering a limo, and sometimes referred to as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’, will be illegal from April 12.