Upskirting; a guide to the latest addition to sexual offences in the UK

It is a crime that has been occurring for years and only recently getting the attention that it should have gotten before; upskirting.

Upskirting is a disturbing act that involves taking photographs or videos under a person’s clothing without their consent with the intention of capturing intimate areas of their body. This invasion of privacy can have severe emotional and psychological consequences for the victims, as well as causing distress when the photos are potentially found online. Recognising the gravity of the issue, the United Kingdom has taken decisive action to address upskirting through comprehensive legal measures.

This article details the laws surrounding upskirting in the UK, their evolution, and the efforts to combat this invasive and degrading behaviour.

The upskirting offence act 2019

Before 2019, upskirting was not explicitly defined as a criminal offence in the UK, which led to significant gaps in the legal system, leaving many victims without adequate protection. However, in response to public outcry and pressure from campaigners, the Upskirting Offence Act was passed in February 2019.

Under this legislation, upskirting became a specific criminal offence across England and Wales. The act defines upskirting as the act of taking or attempting to take photographs or videos beneath an individual’s clothing without their consent with the intention of observing their genitals, buttocks, or underwear.

If you have been accused of upskirting, contact a sexual offence solicitor ASAP to ensure you get the legal representation you need. So, be proactive and don’t presume that this is not a serious crime.

Penalties and punishments

The Upskirting Offence Act established penalties to discourage such behaviour and bring perpetrators to justice. Those convicted of upskirting can face up to two years in prison. Additionally, the offence may be recorded on the offender’s criminal record, potentially impacting their future prospects, including employment opportunities.

It is important to note that the severity of the punishment you receive for upskirting will vary; this will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. For instance, if the perpetrator has previous convictions related to similar offences or if the incident involves minors, the courts may impose stricter penalties.

Devolved nations: Scotland and Northern Ireland

While the Upskirting Offence Act 2019 pertains specifically to England and Wales, both Scotland and Northern Ireland have also taken steps to address upskirting and ensure the protection of their citizens.

In Scotland, upskirting is addressed under the Voyeurism (Offences) (Scotland) Act 2019, which came into force on the same day as the Upskirting Offence Act in England and Wales. The Scottish legislation criminalises upskirting in a manner similar to its English and Welsh counterpart.

In Northern Ireland, upskirting is prosecuted under the Voyeurism Act 2019, which mirrors the legislation in England and Wales, making the act a specific criminal offence.

Remember, if you are accused of upskirting, you will need to seek legal representation as soon as you can, as not doing so (even if you are innocent) will not bode well in your favour!