Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:38 pm on 23rd October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Judge Lord Judge Judge 4:38 pm, 23rd October 2018

My Lords, I am grateful to be allowed to intervene at this stage of debate. I apologise for not putting my name down. As noble Lords have allowed me to speak, I shall do so briefly.

I welcome the Bill. It addresses a problem created by the availability of modern technology. It is a good Bill: we know exact what action is being criminalised; we know exactly what the intention of the perpetrator is. There is no messing about. It is a specific intention. We also know that it must be done—again no messing about—without the consent of the victim and without a reasonable belief in that consent.

I listened with care to some of the observations that have been made, and I shall make this point: any crime of this kind has to be dealt with by way of sentence. It has been an aggravating feature of any kind of sexual offence that the motivation is revenge. It has been a serious aggravating feature of any kind of sexual offence that the objective is money, gain or pressure. It is perfectly obviously an aggravating feature of any sexual crime that the victim has been chosen for whatever reason, whether sexual orientation, trans- genderism or whatever. Those features can be taken into account by the sentencing judge, assuming that it can be established that the offence is to obtain sexual gratification or to humiliate, alarm or distress. Those are very wide words. It would be difficult to think of many situations in which, we will say, a man decided to upskirt without having the purpose of humiliating his victim, probably alarming her and almost certainly distressing her.

There is a gap here that I would like the Minister at least to consider: the Bill does not cover distribution. The purpose of the taker of the upskirt may be to distribute it but the Bill does not cover the consequences if he and others do so. There is no distribution for fun—that cannot be so—but let us just call it “harmless fun” in the sense of what we mean by humiliation. That ought to be an offence by someone else who did not commit the act of obtaining the upskirt image. Certainly there should be an offence that covers the distribution of the image for financial gain. To close that gap, there needs to be consideration of all the matters that have been raised in the speeches today but also a specific offence relating to those who choose to distribute the results of someone else’s foul work.