Make 'upskirt' photography a sexual offence - Labour

Image source, Gina Martin
Image caption,
Gina Martin started a petition after an "upskirt" photo was taken of her at a music festival

The taking of "upskirt" photographs of unsuspecting women should be a specific sexual offence, Labour says.

Ministers should close a "gap in the law" to prevent the taking of photos under women's skirts without their permission, the party says.

Labour has backed a petition to make the practice illegal under the Sexual Offences Act.

It was started by Gina Martin, who discovered men had taken photographs up her skirt at a music festival.

Writing for the BBC following the incident at the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park last month, Ms Martin said: "I started to research how I could prosecute, and through conversations with lawyers, friends and organisations such as 'Safe gigs for Women' and 'Girls Against', I found out that upskirt photos aren't specifically listed as a sexual offence in England and Wales.

"Perpetrators don't often get charged with voyeurism, either - voyeurism laws only protect victims if they're in a private place like a changing room or at home. But I was at a festival - a public place."

Media caption,
Gina Martin and Professor of Law Clare McGlynn discuss upskirt photography on Woman's Hour

She said the law needs to reflect that upskirt photography is "a sexual offence with a victim".

Upskirting is an offence in Scotland but it is more difficult to bring prosecutions in the rest of the UK.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon has written to Justice Secretary David Lidington calling for a change in the law in England and Wales.

He said: "I am writing in support of the campaign, started by Gina Martin, to make disgraceful, invasive 'upskirting' photographs a sexual offence in law.

"The scope for people to take 'upskirting' photographs has clearly increased with developments in mobile phone technology since the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

"At present, there is a gap in the law that has allowed - and is continuing to allow - people who have taken such photographs in public places to escape prosecution. This needs to be changed."

Ms Martin's petition has attracted over 58,000 signatures.

Find out more

  • An upskirt photo is a photo taken up someone's skirt without consent
  • Such photos may end up on dedicated upskirt websites - which are big business
  • Some perpetrators have been known to use a camera embedded in the top of their shoe
  • To discourage covert photos, phones sold in Japan have a shutter sound that cannot be disabled
  • Upskirting is an offence in Scotland under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009
  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it's harder to prosecute

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