I am glad you asked that question. Our position is that we are very glad that upskirting is being taken seriously. I said in advance that I could not comment on the criminal justice aspects—I do not have a legal background. I can talk from the position of the young people we work with and the impact that this law might or might not have on them.
Much as we are delighted that upskirting is being taken very seriously, we do not necessarily believe that for young people a criminal justice approach is the best or the only way to tackle it. We recognise that the patterns for some of this behaviour are set as early as the early years of primary school. We think that educational approaches and whole-school approaches are needed to tackle the kind of gender stereotyping that underpins this, the lack of understanding of personal boundaries, issues around consent, issues around bodies, and how you talk to and report bullying and abuse. All those things are the beginning of this behaviour, and we need to tackle them through educational approaches.
We have some recommendations about how to do that, but we think it should begin in early years, right from the beginning of school, with teaching children about consent and how to understand the limits of other people’s ability to touch you, how to recognise when someone is bullying you and how to understand your right to say no to things. That is a very simple start and it needs to go from early years right through to the end of secondary school.
Some of this behaviour is seen to be “normal”. I spoke to our team of educators to find out what their take was on this, and they said that sometimes when they go to secondary schools and talk about some forms of sexual harassment, which might include upskirting, some of the girls say, “It’s just normal, isn’t it?” We need to nip that in the bud much earlier on and say that this cannot become normal, because if it does, there is no sense in which people can protect themselves against it. It is very important to us that this is not just about punishing the perpetrators, but about prevention.