The government is set to consider making upskirting a specific offence. Justice Secretary David Gauke has said he is reviewing the current law to "make sure it is fit for purpose".
This breakthrough comes after efforts by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse and campaigner Gina Martin to ensure the law is changed so that upskirting is made illegal. Wera’s Bill to make upskirting an offence had it first reading in March and she has been demanding change from both the Justice Secretary and Equalities Minister on the issue.
Commenting on the Justice Secretary’s plan to review the law, Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“Changing the law would see a focus on the victims and the crime committed against them. It would also mean that finally the true scale of this issue can be brought to light. Upskirting causes serious emotional distress and it is essential that victims are given adequate support and recourse.
“I will continue to fight for upskirting to be made what it should be: a criminal offence.”
The first reading of Wera Hobhouse’s Voyeurism Offences Bill 2017-2019 was on 6th March 2018. The Bill is due to have its second reading of 11th May 2018.
On 22nd February 2018, Wera Hobhouse asked Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, Victoria Atkins ‘will the Minister consider criminalising upskirting to end that degrading and humiliating practice’.
On 29th March 2018, Wera Hobhouse asked Justice Minister Rory Stewart ‘If the Government will support legislative proposals to include upskirting as a crime under the Sexual Offences Act 2003’.
On 16th April 2018, Wera Hobhouse MP asked Justice Minister Nick Hurd ‘the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, recently said that the police need to be better trained to tackle and prosecute upskirting, but police and crime commissioners have argued that a change in the law is needed. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the Justice Minister or with police and crime commissioners’.
On 9th Mary 2018, Wera Hobhouse MP will meet with Victoria Atkins to discuss making upskirting a specific criminal offence.
A Freedom of Information request made by the Press Association found that just 78 offences relating to upskirting have been followed up by the police since 2015, but only 11 resulted in charges.