'Upskirting' could be made a criminal offence in the UK

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Upskirting”, the act of taking pictures underneath someone’s clothing without consent, could be made illegal in the UK.

More than 60,000 people signed a petition calling on MPs to make upskirting a criminal offence after a 25-year-old Londoner told how police were unable to press charges against a man caught taking a picture up her skirt.

And now Justice Secretary David Lidington has told MPs he is taking the issue “very seriously” and is considering making it a crime under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Digital creative Gina Martin set up the petition after she caught a man taking pictures up her skirt at a music concert in Hyde Park.

Justice Secretary: David Lidington said he is taking the matter ‘very seriously’ (PA)

When she spotted the image, she grabbed the man’s phone and took it to the police but officers later closed the case because they could not press charges.

Since the incident, Ms Martin set up a campaign page which has been signed by tens of thousands of people.

On it she wrote: “The existing offence is Outraging Public Decency – to commit an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature, which is capable of outraging public decency, in a public place where at least two members of the public who were actually present at the time could have witnessed it. 

Victim: Gina caught a man taking a picture up her skirt at a music concert (Gina Martin)

“But we want the law to specify clearly that this is a sexual offence with a victim, by adding this offence to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.”

After seeing the petition, Mr Lidington told the Commons: “I have taken very seriously the representations made by Gina Martin and from some of the police and crime commissioners.

“I have asked for detailed advice on this. Before proceeding to a commitment to new legislation, I want to be absolutely certain that this would be the right course to take.”

His comments came after Shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon revealed he had signed Ms Martin’s petition. 

Addressing Mr Lidington, he said: “This summer I was proud to sign up to the campaign launched by Gina Martin to change the law so that the disgraceful practice known as upskirting is made a specific sexual offence so will the minister join with us today in backing this call for a change in the law. 

Ms Martin wrote on her campaign page that the Met police have since reopened her case.

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