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Upskirting - A New Law

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Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 – What’s New!

On 12th February 2019 The Voyeurism (Offences) (No 2) received Royal Assent. Meaning the Act has now created new criminal offences. This new law deals with 'upskirting', which is:

'...the practice of taking a photograph up a person’s skirt or clothes without their consent.'

The new law has been introduced following concerns that current laws provided an inadequate response to the problem of “upskirting” because of the hurdles that had to be overcome for a prosecution to succeed. Prior to the new law it was necessary to prosecute the offence as either outranging public decency and voyeurism.

So, what will change?

A new section 67A will be inserted into the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

New section 67A subsection 1 would mean that a person (A) commits an offence if they operate equipment beneath the clothing of another person (B) to allow either themselves or another person (C) to observe person B’s genitals or buttocks or the underwear covering them, in circumstances in which they would otherwise not be visible.

Subsection 2 mirrors the provisions of subsection 1 and would mean that a person committed an offence where a person (A) records an image beneath the clothing of another person (B) which is of B’s genitals or buttocks, or the underwear covering B’s genitals or buttocks, in circumstances where the genitals, buttocks or underwear would otherwise not be visible.

For both offences person A would operate equipment or record an image without B’s consent and without reasonably believing that B consented. In addition, under subsection 3 the purpose of person A in operating equipment (subsection 1) or recording an image (subsection 2) must be:

  • obtaining sexual gratification (whether for A or C); or
  • humiliating, alarming or distressing B.

What would I get?

The new offences can be tried at the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. The maximum sentence following summary conviction (in a magistrate’s court) is six months’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both. The maximum sentence following conviction on indictment (at the crown court) would be two years’ imprisonment.

Notification Requirements

The new Act will also allow that in certain circumstances offenders could be placed on the sex offenders register. These circumstances are:

  • For offenders aged over 18-years old: the offence was committed for sexual gratification and either the victim was under 18, or the offender has been sentenced to imprisonment; or detained in hospital; or made the subject of a community sentence of at least twelve months.
  • For offenders aged under 18-years old: the offence was committed for sexual gratification and the offender is or has been sentenced to imprisonment for at least twelve months.

How we can help?

The importance of a strong criminal defence team to represent you has never been more crucial.

At Emery Johnson Astills we have an experienced criminal defence team to advise you every step of the way and our specialist Solicitor Advocates have a track record of positive outcomes. 

If you find yourself under investigation for a sexual offence it is vital that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

At Emery Johnson Astills we offer 24 hour police station advice and representation. Police Station advice is available to everyone free of charge and legal aid may be available for your case at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court, however, many people prefer to instruct us on a private basis. We will of course discuss all options and alternatives with you.

To discuss any criminal offences please contact the Criminal Defence Team at Emery Johnson Astills in Leicester on 0116 255 4855 or in Loughborough on 01509 610 312.