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Upskirting to become crime carrying two-year sentence

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Upskirting is to be a criminal offence after the bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords.

The campaign, started by Gina Martin, sought to make it a specific offence to take a picture under a person’s clothes without their consent.

Last June, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it would back the ban which formed part of the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill.

On Tuesday it received its third reading which means it will soon be on the statute book, and law.

Gina Martin shared a photo after the bill got its final reading
Image:
Gina Martin shared a photo with Ryan Whelan after the bill got its final reading

Ms Martin tweeted: “I am over the moon. Upskirting will be illegal.

“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.

“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!”

The bill is part of the sexual offences act of 2003. Upskirting is already a crime in Scotland.

Gina Martin was the victim of upskirt photos at a summer festival in London
Image:
Ms Martin was the victim of upskirt photos at a summer festival in London

Ms Martin, a freelance writer living in London, campaigned for the ban after two men took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017.

She spotted one of the men sharing the image on his mobile in front of her. Despite snatching the phone and presenting it to police, the case was closed four days later.

Victims previously had to use other avenues likes outraging public decency but upskirting offences will now come with a sentence of up to two years in prison.

Baroness Anita Gale tweeted: “The Voyeurism Bill received its Third reading in the House of Lords this afternoon so it should soon be on the Statute Book.

“Victims of upskirting will now get justice and the perpetrators will be brought to justice.”

In the Lords, Baroness Chakrabarti said: “I pay tribute to the campaigner Gina Martin, whose original indignity was converted into a powerful campaign to do something important that we can all agree on.

“I also pay tribute to her lawyer, Ryan Whelan, for that campaigning partnership and to parliamentarians on all sides of both Houses who made it possible-even at the expense of rivalries and through self-censoring-to allow a speedy and successful passage of this Bill.

“This was good work and very well done.”

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