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Penalty for upskirting is a jail sentence and being put on the sex offenders register

UPSKIRTING will be given a specific criminal offence after legislation to ban it received Royal Assent yesterday.

People convicted of taking an image or video of a victim’s groin or buttocks under their clothing face being jailed for two years and being put on the sex offenders register.

Gina Martin, who campaigned for the law change after being upskirted at a festival in 2017, welcomed the move and said it was a “long time coming.”

Victims called for the creation of a specific law after becoming frustrated with a lack of options to prosecute perpetrators.

In the past some people were able to seek a conviction under harassment, voyeurism or breaking public decency laws.

The creation of a specific offence means suspects can be prosecuted for attempting to obtain sexual gratification or cause humiliation, distress or alarm.

The government intervened last June to bring forward measures to tackle the behaviour after a Private Member’s Bill was blocked by Conservative backbencher Sir Christopher Chope.

Mr Chope was criticised again last week after objecting to a Bill which sought to tackle female genital mutilation.

His actions last summer were condemned by campaigners and Tory colleagues, prompting the government to adopt the Bill.

Ms Martin, 27, said: “It’s a bit surreal – royal assent is the final step in an exhausting amount of work. It’s become part of my life.

“Chope took the campaign stratospheric – an objection made people even more angry than they were already.

“There’s a lot of work still to do. A change in law is a huge thing, it sets a precedent but it doesn’t change people’s opinions.

“It has been a long time coming but we are finally protected in every scenario – as we should always have been.”

The new law means police will be able to arrest people on suspicion of upskirting from April.

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