Now that it has been criminalised...
The blatant violation, involving filming up someone’s clothing without their permission, will now be punishable by up to two years in prison, with the criminalisation being approved in the house of Lords, now getting the formality of the Royal Assent.
But how can you report the offence?
‘If you’re a victim of upskirting, the police and other organisations are there to help you,’ the Ministry of Justice published on Gov.Uk. ‘Please don’t suffer in silence, seek support. You may want to speak to someone you already know and trust, or get in touch with a charity.’
They continue: ‘It’s important to know your rights after a crime has taken place, the police will be able to talk you through this.
‘Victims of upskirting will be entitled to automatic protection, eg from being identified in the media (so they won’t be able to publish any identifying details such as names, addresses or photos).’
While the offence has only just been criminalised, it has been a long time coming, with the campaign starting in 2017.
Gina Martin introduced us to the term, Upskirting, after starting a viral online campaign to get it criminalised. She had discovered that it wasn’t a specific offence in UK law after being victim to it herself at a festival and being unable to progress her claims, with police telling her there was nothing they could do. She later petitioned to reopen her claim, and then went ever further, lobbying to change the law.
Gina’s aim? To have upskirting recognised in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and to thereby make it punishable by law.
But while it garnered a lot of celebrity support and was brought to parliament by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, its progress was halted by Conservative MP Christopher Chope in June 2018 who did his very best to disrupt the policy’s development – the proposal’s sole objector.
When it was announced earlier this year that the criminalisation was confirmed, Gina exclaimed that she was ‘over the moon’.
‘After becoming a victim and recognising a gap in the law, I partnered with Ryan Whelan of Gibson Dunn and began 18 months of exhaustive, emotional and life-changing work,’ she announced. ‘Now? We have changed the law! I always thought politics was impenetrable but with the right help and willpower you can do it. We did it. We made upskirting a sexual offence! I am exhausted and so so happy!’
So now England and Wales have joined the many countries that already have laws on upskirting, with serious offenders even to be named on the sex offenders register.
It’s about time.