Examination of Witness

Part of Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 10th July 2018.

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Mrs Miller:

I would say that one very good aspect of the Bill is that it will make upskirting a sex offence, so, as the Minister set out clearly in the Second Reading Committee, there will be anonymity for victims. I am very clear that that—acknowledging that many image-based offences should be categorised as sex offences and therefore that victims should be afforded anonymity—is a move in the right direction.

At the risk of going into other areas—I know you would not want me to, Sir Roger—there are parallels to be drawn with revenge pornography, which was not deemed a sex offence despite the fact that it has a similar impact on victims, and for which there is no anonymity as a result. We know from work by organisations such as the BBC that one in three victims in cases where police want to press charges backs out. Many perhaps do so because of the lack of anonymity if cases are taken to court.

The Bill is a is a positive step, but Ms Saville Roberts alludes to the concern that, by rushing it through, we may reinforce the fact that not all intimate images are illegal and reinforce bad behaviour. She is absolutely right. What really concerns me is that perpetrators could easily plead that they were taking images not for sexual gratification, but anonymously for sale to a third party. That could actually give perpetrators a very big loophole to climb through. At the moment it is not so clear but, if the loophole is set out in law, some very clever barristers could make extremely good use of it.