New legislation will officially make ‘upskirting’ illegal – and punishable by up to two years in prison

New legislation will officially make ‘upskirting’ illegal – and punishable by up to two years in prison
New legislation will make 'upskirting' a criminal offence in England and Wales this year (Photo: Shutterstock)

Additional reporting by Jenn Selby

People who take pictures up women’s skirts could now face up to two years in prison, after legislation was passed to make ‘upskirting’ a criminal offence.

The bill cleared its third and final reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday (15 January), and is expected to receive the formality of Royal Assent by Spring this year.

In Scotland, upskirting has been covered by legislation since 2010.

#stopskirtingtheissue

The new bill comes under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and will cover England and Wales.

In Scotland, upskirting is already a crime, having been covered by legislation since 2010.

The legislation was prompted by freelance writer Gina Martin, 26, who started a campaign for upskirting to be made illegal, after a man took a picture up her skirt at a festival in London’s Hyde Park in 2017.

Martin then launched the #stopskirtingtheissue campaign via a petition, which reached 100,000 signatures.

The bill cleared its third and final reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday (15 January) (Photo: Shutterstock)
The bill cleared its third and final reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday (15 January) (Photo: Shutterstock)

She is now backed by lawyer Ryan Whelan (of Global law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP) police commissioners, and MPs across all parties.

Following the news that upskirting will be made a criminal offence, she told inews, “I’m feeling elated, it’s been two years of exhaustive unbelievable work.

“I thought politics was impenetrable, but I managed to have an influence on it.”

A delayed victory

A private member’s bill on upskirting was originally taken through the House of Commons last year, having been introduced to Parliament by Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, on 6 March 2018.

However, the bill was blocked by Tory MP, Sir Christopher Chope.

The government later intervened and backed a bill as part of a drive to eradicate sexual abuse and gender inequality in the UK.

Upskirting offences were already punishable under the Outraging Public Decency (OPD) offence, but the new legislation will make it easier to prosecute perpetrators and ensures it is treated as a sexual offence.

Offenders could face up to two years in prison if convicted at a Crown Court.