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 think an inconsistency in the law is emerging here that the Government need to look at much more closely. Mention has rightly been made of revenge pornography. When that offence was introduced back in 2014, the need for it was questioned somewhat by the CPS. We now have 500 cases a year successfully prosecuted and hundreds more that are not successfully prosecuted, for the very reason that has just been set out—it is probably mostly because anonymity is not afforded there. But I think some broader inconsistencies are coming out as a result of this Bill. We have said we are delighted that the Government have seen this as a sex offence and so there will be, in the case of upskirting offences, anonymity, but as has been pointed out, why is there not anonymity for people who are victims of revenge pornography? It is not entirely clear on what basis that has been decided, other than the fact that revenge pornography was not made a sex offence—again, for reasons that are entirely unclear. I am sure the Committee is very aware that flashing in a mac is not only a sex offence but, if it was causing harm or distress—not sexual gratification—a notifiable offence, yet deep fake porn, where your head can be very easily put on to a pornographic image, moving or otherwise, is not a sex offence at all; it is simply harassment.

I think this is at best complex and at worst confusing, and the Government need to take a very long, hard look at it, because online offences and image abuses are as real and as dreadful for the victims as some of those abuses that are perpetrated in person.