Examination of Witness

Part of Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:57 am on 10th July 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Assistant Commissioner Hewitt:

I don’t think it is about difficulty. For me, that is the gap this legislation can potentially fill. The two pieces of legislation that you would most likely try to use as it currently stands are, first, outraging public decency legislation, which—let’s be honest—even with the language used in that you realise it is not necessarily fit for the time that we are now. In the first instance, that has to happen in a public place. It also requires witnesses to have been present at the time where the offence took place. An important point coming from my sexual offences lead is that it is not, per se, a sexual offence, and I think these should be treated as a sexual offence. We also have the voyeurism legislation, which has been used, but again, that requires a private setting and seeing and filming a private act.

I do not think the legislative framework as it stands is adequate for the issue that we have. It is another example where the advances and availability of technology—let’s be clear, I would guess that everyone at secondary school probably has a smartphone with them all of the time, which means they have a camera with them all of the time. This means they have the opportunity to commit an offence, amongst others. There are a number of what I believe are sexual offences that are image-based—the so-called sexting and the revenge porn as it is popularly called—all of these offences where the ability for people, universally, to take quality images quickly and potentially share those images takes us to a place where, at the moment, the legislative framework does not give us the ability to deal with that effectively. That is the gap. You always have to prove a crime and there will be always be occasions when that can be challenging. We can deal with it much more effectively with clauses that are specifically focussed on this type of offending.