Amendment 162

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 11:15 pm on 8th February 2021.

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Photo of Lord Judge Lord Judge Chair, Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill [HL] Special Public Bill Committee, Chair, Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill [HL] Special Public Bill Committee, Convenor of the Crossbench Peers 11:15 pm, 8th February 2021

My Lords, I apologise for unavoidably missing Second Reading. I will only add something that is based on my own experience. We are dealing with the instruments of power. The more personal they are, the more powerful they can be; the greater their use, the greater the risk of their misuse. I approach this amendment—the spirit of which I strongly support—on the basis of experience, or experiences, of the way in which all the horrors and indignities can now be heaped on victims in a non-domestic situation: it is rape by strangers, pervertedly using modern technology to add to the humiliation of their victim by taking intimate images before leaving them to all their harrowing distress.

What is the purpose of those photographs? Is it to humiliate, or to threaten? They can be circulated to others with potentially rather perverted sexual titillation in mind, who themselves will have the power to threaten the victim with yet further circulation of the images. Such threats are appalling and should be criminalised. I hear the Minister thinking, immediately, “But this is a Domestic Abuse Bill.” There is a link, however, between that sort of behaviour and the behaviour to which I now come.

I am assuming for present purposes that, far from being rape cases, the images which we are now discussing are based on participation in the taking of images at times of cherished joy by two perfectly happy, willing people. I know that is not always the case, but I am taking it at the other extreme end. They are taken consensually, on the basis of trust—that they will remain private and personal, that they will never be circulated, that the power they give to one participant over the other will never be abused, whether via circulation or threat of circulation, and trust in particular that they will never be abused as a weapon of power, pressure, or control. I emphasise that to me, a threat alone constitutes a grotesque breach of the trust which was once reposed in the other half to the relationship. It leaves the victim with an impossible choice to make: to risk circulation—how awful—or give way to what may be utterly outrageous demands by someone who was once trusted.

We criminalised the sharing of intimate pictures. Section 33 of the 2015 Act is a perfectly simple piece of legislation. We do not require the Law Commission. We do not require very much time to be able to adapt the Section 33 provision so as to make criminal the circulation and the threat to circulate or share images such as this. It is simple and obvious.