Aims of the Bill
The Bill would add a new section 67A to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which would set out two new voyeurism offences aimed at tackling "upskirting". This is the act of covertly photographing underneath someone’s clothing without their consent. It is often performed in crowded public places, for example on public transport or at music festivals, which can make it difficult to notice the perpetrator.
In England and Wales there is currently no specific criminal offence to cover this type of conduct. It would instead be prosecuted under the more general offences of outraging public decency or voyeurism. There can be difficulties in satisfying the requirements of these more general offences, which in some cases means prosecutions cannot be brought.
Scotland, however, amended its voyeurism legislation in 2010 to make upskirting a specific offence.
The Bill would adopt a similar approach to that taken in Scotland. The two new forms of voyeurism would cover the operation of equipment or recording of an image under another person’s clothing with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks (with or without underwear), and without that person’s consent.
The offences would apply where the perpetrator had a motive of either obtaining sexual gratification, or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim.
The new offences would be triable either way. The maximum sentence following summary conviction would be 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine. The maximum sentence following conviction on indictment would be two years and/or a fine.
The Bill also provides for offenders convicted of particularly serious forms of the new section 67A offences to be placed on the sex offenders register.
A Private Member’s Bill on the issue, introduced by Wera Hobhouse, was blocked at second reading. The Government has therefore introduced its own Bill so that offences are more likely to make it onto the statute bookBill Documents: