An MP wants upskirting to be a criminal offence

Remind us why this isn't illegal yet?

More calls have been made by campaigners to make upskirting illegal today after a Freedom of Information request into police data revealed there have been just 11 charges made related to the practice since 2015, despite police investigating 78 offences.

The data released shows a surprisingly low amount of reports considering how many women claim to have fallen victim to it, but only 15 of 44 police forces that were contacted held records related to upskirting. Campaigners argue that because upskirting is not currently a specific, named criminal offence, police can only charge upskirters with other offences like voyeurism, indecency or outraging public decency.

MP Maria Miller, who chairs the women and equalities select committee, told the BBC more must be done to stop the “horrific crime”. “Attempting to take a photograph underneath a skirt is a gross violation of privacy and potentially an act of indecency,” she added.

Last month, 25-year-old Gina Martin, told Dazed about the moment she looked at another festival goer's phone and saw her own crotch. “WhatsApp was open, and on the screen was a photo of a woman’s crotch. As I noticed the thin strip of underwear, the pink mini skirt, the top of the snakeskin boots – I suddenly knew what I was looking at. It was a picture of me, under my skirt,” she said. She later started an online petition that quickly received over 10,000 signatures. 

Recent findings revealed a lot of what we already know about upskirting – it takes place in public spaces such as bars, nightclubs, shops and on public transport, and that the victims are more than often always young women. However, figures revealed that girls as young as ten years old have been targeted. Overall, the data seemed to show that as there is normally insufficient evidence and the criteria for what defines “upskirting“ has not been explicitly laid out in law, prosecutions are not made.

Although upskirting is already illegal in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and some states in the U.S, it is not currently recognised as a specific offence in England and Wales. Campaigners are arguing that just like the situation with revenge porn – made illegal in 2015 after a national campaign – the lack of a specific definition and offence for upskirting means police struggle to investigate allegations. Calls are being made to explicitly define upskirting and make it illegal so that not only can more victims come forward knowing that they have a case, but so that more charges can be made to stop the awful act from happening altogether.

Read more on upskirting and Gina’s story here.