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Sexual Harassment Upskirt victims ‘as young as 10’: Campaigners call for criminalisation

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for “upskirting" to be criminalised as the first figures ever to be published on the voyeuristic practice reveals victims targeted are as young as 10.

Equality groups and politicians joined victims to urge the government to make upskirting — taking photos up the skirts of unsuspecting people — "an effective criminal law" alongside other sexual offences.

No specific law exists currently to ban it and police are forced instead to try to lump it under other criminal offences such as outraging public decency.

Official police stats published today showed that 78 incidents were reported in two years, with just 11 resulting in suspects being charged.

Campaigners said the true number is likely to be much higher, given the difficulties in police being able to log and investigate in many cases.

One force, Avon and Somerset Police, had six records of upskirting including two against girls aged 10 and 14, but the cases didn't progress due to insufficient evidence.

Dorset Police had one case of a man allegedly seen taking images up the skirt of a 16-year-old. The suspect was identified, but there were "evidential difficulties."

Merseyside Police said there were 12 crimes recorded, all involving women. Four of the alleged victims were children.

Officers said that because upskirting is not a specific offence under Home Office counting rules for recorded crime, data was retrieved by means of keyword searches.

Locations included public spaces such as nightclubs and restaurants.

Durham University's professor of law and sexual violence expert Clare McGlynn said there "are few public places where women are free from this abuse."

She said: "The government's continuing failure to provide an effective criminal law against upskirting breaches women's human rights.

"We are entitled to protection from degrading and abusive treatment, whether offline or online, and we are entitled to have our privacy in public respected.

"We are also entitled to a law that is fit for purpose, a law that treats this abuse as a form of sexual offence and that provides anonymity to all complainants.

"Only then will victims feel more willing to come forward and report to the police and support prosecutions."

Campaigner Gina Martin said she spotted a man upskirting her at the British Summer Time festival last year, but, when she reported the incident to police, she was told: "There's not much we can do."

End Violence Against Women coalition's Sarah Green called for the law to be "urgently examined" in this area.

Women and equalities select committee chairwoman Maria Miller said it would consider whether the "horrific crime of upskirting" should be included in a further inquiry into sexual harassment.

 

 

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