Scotland politics

Intimate images of 25 woman posted online after computers hacked

Revenge porn concept image Image copyright PA

Intimate images of 25 women from a small area of Scotland were posted online after their computers were hacked, Police Scotland has revealed.

Det Ch Supt Lesley Boal gave details of the incidents during evidence to MSPs.

Holyrood's justice committee is looking at the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill which aims to crack down on so-called "revenge porn".

Ms Boal spoke of the "devastating" consequences the unauthorised sharing of explicit images can have.

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill is mainly designed to prosecute "revenge porn" - intimate images taken in a consensual relationship but distributed later following a break-up - but it may also be used to prosecute unconnected hackers and voyeurs.

Revenge porn breaches several existing laws but often leaves police, prosecutors and victims unsure of what particular crime has been committed.

Prosecutors also welcomed provisions to tighten up cross-border difficulties after another offender had to be prosecuted twice - with one trial in England for using a covert camera to record a young woman in the shower and a second trial in Scotland for keeping the image.

Image copyright Scottish Parliament
Image caption Det Ch Supt Lesley Boal gave details of the hacking incident during evidence to MSPs

Ms Boal said: "Victims are unclear whether (revenge porn) is an offence and police officers, given some of the circumstances, are not clear exactly what crime or offence it fits into.

"So, for perpetrators there has to be a clear message that this is absolutely not acceptable in society. In terms of how it impacts on victims, it is absolutely devastating.

"We have interpreted the bill as not only covering intimate images disclosed in a domestic setting but broadly."

'Unauthorised posting'

During her evidence, she went on: "To give you an example of why we welcome that, between August 20-22 this year in quite a small area of Scotland we had 25 separate reports made from members of the public regarding the unauthorised posting of intimate images.

"They had either taken the images themselves, or their partners or friends had, and they had stored them on their own personal computers, etcetera.

"An individual, or individuals, unknown had hacked into their computers and then posted them alongside personal information on the internet.

"It was not in a domestic setting, there is no suggestion that it was a partner or prior partner for these 25 victims, but the work that has fallen from that is significant and the impact is just as stark for these 25 women than it would be for a domestic setting."

Catherine Dyer, chief executive of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: "There was a case in Scotland where indecent images were found which were taken without permission of the person.

"It was a young lady who had gone on holiday with a family friend, along with family members who all all lived in Scotland.

"The male person had set up a camera to take naked pictures of her in the shower, which were then recovered when the police raided his house in Scotland.

"But the taking of the image had taken place in England, and what happened there was there were two trials because as the moment we can't conjoin them."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites