Mobile phones are a must-have in today’s world, enabling us to stay connected and share images at the touch of a button. However, the ability to take a quick photo underneath someone’s clothes, without their consent, is a new and shocking aspect of their use. This practice, known as ‘upskirting’, causes huge upset and distress to victims and until recently has largely evaded prosecution.
Having raised the issue several weeks ago with Justice Minister, Lucy Frazer QC MP, I went into Parliament on Friday 15th June to support a Private Members Bill designed to criminalise the practice, and was one of many MPs who were dismayed that its progress was blocked.
However, because the Bill failed to progress as planned, the Government has announced that it will introduce new legislation to make sure that a law explicitly criminalising upskirting will soon be on the statute books. While there are current offences that may sometimes be suitable to punish upskirting, there is still a gap in the law which allows people to get away with this distressing invasion of privacy.
Speaking in the upskirting debate on Monday 18th June, I said: “Having attended the Chamber on Friday and having been prepared to back the Bill, I was disappointed that it was not put forward. I want to correct any assertion that there is a party political divide on this. Many people on the Government Benches would have supported the Bill and intend to do so. May I congratulate the Minister, therefore, on her announcement today and on bringing this forward? The sooner this is on the statute book, the sooner women will be protected from this vile practice.”