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House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Voyeurism (Offences) (No 2) Bill: Request for Written Evidence

12th July 2018

Overview: The Public Bill Committee released a call for evidence on the Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill, which it was to consider in July 2018. The evidence was to inform the decisions of the Committee on the proposed format and wording of the Bill, before it proceeded to Report Stage.

Summary: The PCC welcomed the Bill and its potential to deter and criminalise ‘upskirting’. However, several submissions were made to the Committee to amend/improve the Bill and the legislative landscape more broadly. In summary:

  • The PCC was concerned that the offence will only be proven for those perpetrators who commit upskirting offences for ‘sexual gratification’ or to ‘alarm, humiliate or distress’ the victim. This precludes from prosecution those offenders who commit the offence for other reasons, such as for financial gain or ‘for a laugh’.
  • The legislation, as initially drafted, distinguishes between those who commit upskirting offences for ‘sexual gratification’ and those whose motive is to ‘alarm, humiliate or distress’ the victim. Only those offenders who commit the offence with the former motive will be on the sex offenders register. This wrongly creates a hierarchy of perpetrators and fails to acknowledge that sexual violence is far less frequently perpetrated for sexual gratification and far more often carried out in order to exercise power and control over the victim by carrying out an intimate act without their consent.
  • The Bill needs to criminalise the distribution of upskirting images, otherwise there is a loophole in the law.
  • Other image-based sexual offences need to be considered for legislative purposes. At present the law is not keeping up to pace with the emergence of new forms of sexual abuse which utilise technology.