Upskirting clampdown as CPS issues update to include 'cyberflashing'

Upskirting clampdown as CPS issues update to include 'cyberflashing'

August 8, 2022

New clampdown on upskirt photo predators as CPS updates guidance to include offenders who ‘cyber flash’ nearby women by sending unsolicited indecent photos

  • The Crown Prosecution Service has updated legal guidance for upskirting
  • They encourage women who experience it to go to the police  
  • 71% of UK women have experienced sexual harassment in a public place
  • The CPS’s move is designed to encourage more victims to come forward 

Women who are sexually intimidated in the street should go to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service insists today, as it vows to take offenders to court.

Prosecutors said perpetrators will face consequences for exposing themselves, taking ‘upskirt’ photographs or causing women ‘harassment, alarm or distress’.

It has updated its legal guidance issued to lawyers in a bid to ensure that public sexual abuse is taken seriously.

The CPS said it would also apply to offenders who ‘cyber flash’ women by sending unsolicited indecent photographs to victims in the vicinity using short-range data-sharing technology such as Bluetooth.

It comes after a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for UN Women last year found 71 per cent of women in the UK had experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space, but the vast majority – 95 per cent – of these victims did not report it to police.

CPS national lead for rape and serious sexual offences, Siobhan Blake, said: ‘The law is clear that if someone exposes themselves, tries to take inappropriate pictures or makes you feel threatened on the street, these are crimes and should not be dismissed.

The CPS has updated its legal guidance to ensure that public sexual abuse is taken seriously. It will now also apply to those who ‘cyberflash’ women by sending unsolicited pictures (stock image)

‘Everyone has the right to travel on public transport, dance at a festival or walk the streets without fear of harassment.

‘Feeling safe should not be a luxury for women.’

She added: ‘It is sickening that seven in ten women have been subjected to this disgusting behaviour. It is equally concerning that so few incidents of sexual harassment in public are reported.’

The CPS’s move is designed to encourage more victims to come forward and make sure that prosecutions are carried out consistently.

‘We understand why women may feel reluctant to come forward if they are victims of these upsetting and frightening incidents, but we want to send a clear message that this intimidating behaviour can be a criminal offence,’ said Miss Blake.

‘The law is there to protect you and help make our streets safer.We will do all we can, working with police, to support those who come forward.’

A number of celebrities including actress Emily Atack, podcast host and writer Emily Clarkson and former Love Island star Zara McDermott have all spoken out publicly about their experiences of so-called cyber-flashing and the distress it caused.

Research by dating app Bumble suggested that 48 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 had received an unwanted sexual image in the previous year.

Last month the Law Commission proposed creating a new offence of intentionally taking or sharing sexual, nude or intimate photographs or videos without consent, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison.

More serious offences, such as threatening to share nude images, should carry sentences of two to three years.

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