SE Cambs MP Lucy Frazer promises urgent Government Bill to make upskirting a criminal offence
- Credit: Archant
SE Cambs MP – and Government minister – Lucy Frazer promised to bring forward a new law to make upskirting a criminal offence.
“Upskirting is an invasion of privacy that leaves victims feeling humiliated, so we will bring legislation before the House in Government time to ensure that this practice becomes an offence,” she told her fellow MPs on Monday.
Responding to an urgent question, Ms Frazer, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice, said both she and the Lord Chancellor were disappointed when a private Member’s Bill did not make progress last Friday.
The proposed bill would have made upskirting a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison but Tory MP Christopher Chope objected and so progress on the bill was blocked.
However Ms Frazer has promised that upskirting (the taking of sexually intrusive photographs), would be made a criminal offence sooner rather than later.
“Upskirting is an invasion of privacy, and a humiliating and distressing experience,” she told MPs.
“Although there are existing offences that can be used to punish upskirting in some circumstances, there is a gap in the law. The offences of outraging public decency or voyeurism may be used to capture upskirting.
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“However, the public order offence is limited, as the offence needs to take place in a public place and two people need to be present.
“Conversely, the voyeurism offence needs to be a private act and must take place in a place where one would expect privacy.”
She said there may be activities, such as photographs taken in schools, which are not caught by either provision.
“This law will close that loophole, and ensure there is no doubt that this activity is criminal and will not be tolerated,” said Ms Frazer.
“For the most serious sexual offences, we will ensure that the offender is also placed on the sex offenders register.
“I am looking forward to working with colleagues from across the House to progress this matter and make upskirting an offence.”
Ms Frazer said the Government has a priority: to ensure that this legislation gets on to the statute book as soon as possible and action would begin this week.
“It is not just laws that are passed that dictate how people act; it is also people’s knowledge of the laws and sending a signal about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable,” she said. “This behaviour is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.”
Ms Frazer added: “I should point out that, while the legislation will largely protect women, it is not solely about women. It is about photographing up people’s clothes, and it will apply to men as well as women. It will also protect children.”