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Reports of upskirting in Thames Valley

The act was made an offence last April.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 11:35am 17th January 2020. 3-minute read.

Reports of upskirting in Thames Valley

Half a dozen cases of upskirting have been reported to Thames Valley Police in the six months since it was made a specific offence, an investigation has found.

The first figures on the impact of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act, obtained by a Freedom of Information request by the PA news agency, show that almost one victim a day has contacted police since its introduction last April.

Campaigners say upskirting "does not exist in a vacuum", and celebrated the new law for holding potential perpetrators of sexual assault and violence to account.

In the Thames Valley area, police received six reports of upskirting in the first 182 days after the Act came into force, making it a specific criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison.

Police did not provide any information about the victims, or whether the cases resulted in criminal proceedings.

Across England, 153 allegations were made over the period, although two large police forces – London's Metropolitan Police Service and Bedfordshire Police – refused to respond to the information request, meaning the true number could be much higher.

The vast majority of incidents involved female victims, taking place in schools, shopping centres and other public spaces.

Campaigners previously complained that the lack of a specific upskirting law meant police were unsure how to deal with allegations, and therefore many crimes went unreported.

Under the new law, a conviction at the magistrates' court would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and could include a fine.

A more serious offence, tried in the crown court, can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The Voyeurism Act also allows upskirting to be treated as a sexual offence and ensure that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders register.

Campaigner Gina Martin, who spent nearly two years fighting to create a specific upskirting law after two men who took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017 went unpunished, welcomed the statistics.

She said:

"The Voyeurism Act only came into use eight months ago and the difference in charges and reporting is already up greatly.

"Among those who were charged was a convicted paedophile and a man who police subsequently found had 250,000 indecent images of children.

"Upskirting doesn't exist in a vacuum.

"Sexual assault and violence is all linked, and I'm just so happy this law is holding those who perpetrate it accountable."

Separate data from the Crown Prosecution Service showed that 10 men were convicted of 16 offences in 2019.

Six police forces said they had no evidence of upskirting offences having been reported to them.

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