'Upskirting' law needed, says Sheffield MP

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A Sheffield MP today called for 'upskirting' to be outlawed in the UK.

The despicable act of filming up women's skirts or down their blouses - known as 'downblousing' is not a specific sexual offence in England and Wales, though culprits have been prosecuted under other legislation.

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss

There are growing calls for new legislation to be brought in, as has already happened in Scotland, to make it easier to bring offenders to justice.

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Nearly 100,000 people signed a petition started by Gina Martin, after two men had used a mobile phone to take photos up her skirt at a music festival, calling for a specific crime of 'upskirting' to be added to the sexual offences act.

A bill which aims to make 'upskirting' a sexual offence in England and Wales is due to be debated in parliament next month.

Speaking today in the Commons, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss said: ""Almost 100,000 members of the public have signed a petition calling for upskirting to be made a specific sexual offence and MPs from all major parties have signed an early day motion calling for the same.

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"So why is the minister still refusing to act? We really need to make sure that our law reflects that of Scotland's, where this has been incorporated into their sexual offences act in 2009."

Justice secretary David Gauke responded by saying there was a 'strong case' for looking at change in legislation, though he pointed out people had already been prosecuted for 'upskirting' under existing laws in England and Wales.

"I'm sympathetic to us taking action in this area. There are offences where people have been successfully prosecuted for upskirting in terms of outraging public decency and also voyeurism can apply under the sexual offences act," he said.

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"But I think there is a case to say that these offences don't necessarily cover every instance of upskirting and that's why there's a strong case for looking at the law and whether we need to change it."

He added that he believed there had been only a 'very small number' of prosecutions brought under the new legislation in Scotland.