South Yorkshire Police reveals upskirting offences reported to force

There were more than 150 allegations of upskirting made to police forces in England and Wales in the six months after a new law was passed making it an offence.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 8:48 am
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 10:58 am

In South Yorkshire, four incidents were reported between April and October 2019.

Probes into two incidents broke down due to either evidential difficulties or a lack of suspect being identified.

The results of the other two were unrecorded.

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Police forces have released figures today on upskirting offences (Pic: PA/ Jane Barlow)

Schoolchildren were among alleged victims who contacted police in England and Wales in the first six months after the creation of the new upskirting law, an investigation has found.

The first figures on the impact of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that almost one victim a day has contacted police since its introduction.

Gina Martin, who led the campaign against upskirting, praised the impact of the law on bringing perpetrators to justice.

Data from 35 police forces found there had been 153 incidents reported over a six month period - up from 94 incidents reported to 25 constabularies during 2018, the year before the ban was introduced, and up from 78 reports over the two-year period from April 2015 to April 2017.

Campaigners previously complained that the lack of a specific upskirting law meant police were unsure how to deal with allegations, and therefore many crimes went unreported.

New data shows the vast majority of incidents between April and October 2019 involved female victims, taking place in schools, shopping centres and other public places.

Avon and Somerset Police said a 74-year-old woman was among those targeted by the cruel craze, which often sees a perpetrator use a recording device such as a camera phone to take explicit images underneath a victim's clothing, without permission and often undetected.

Several forces reported teenage victims among those caught up in investigations, which included a 15-year-old boy, according to West Midlands Police, while Sussex Police said a 14-year-old girl on a bus was among the victims.

Elsewhere, Hertfordshire Police said one of two upskirting incidents in the force area involved a 15-year-old boy taking an image of a 15-year-old girl while she was either drunk or asleep, before threatening to circulate the photos on social media.

Dorset Police said the youngest victim reported to them was aged between 10 and 18, but declined to provide further information.

Separate data from the Crown Prosecution Service showed that 10 men were convicted of 16 offences in 2019.

This included convicted paedophile Stuart Bulling, the first person jailed under the new law, after he was caught following teenage girls around a supermarket in Lancashire, in September, the CPS said.

Trevor Beasley, 51, was also jailed, for filming under women's skirts in Burgh Heath, Surrey.

Police subsequently found 250,000 indecent images of children on his devices.

He had previously been convicted of upskirting in 2016 under the old charge of outraging public decency.

Under the new law, a conviction at the magistrates' court would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a fine.

A more serious offence, tried at crown court, can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The Voyeurism Act also allows upskirting to be treated as a sexual offence and ensures that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders register.

Campaigner Ms Martin, who spent nearly two years fighting to create a specific upskirting law after two men who took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017 went unpunished, welcomed the statistics.

She said: "The Voyeurism Act only came into use eight months ago and the difference in charges and reporting is already up greatly.

"Among those who were charged was a convicted paedophile and a man who police subsequently found had 250,000 indecent images of children.

"Upskirting doesn't exist in a vacuum.

"Sexual assault and violence is all linked, and I'm just so happy this law is holding those who perpetrate it accountable."