Examination of Witness

Part of Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 10th July 2018.

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Lisa Hallgarten:

Absolutely, and I should clarify that when I say that schools should be given clear guidance on how to deal with the issue, there are many ways of dealing with it that fall short of criminalisation. That is why I referred to the work done on sending and sharing sexual images: some good work was done on how to support schools in managing those incidents and treating them with the seriousness with which they deserve to be treated. We also need clarity about when it is and is not appropriate to report incidents to the police and, when they are reported, guidance that allows the police to use their discretion as to whether to bring a prosecution—it has to be in the public interest for them to do so.

I worry that if young people know that something is illegal, they are less likely to report it. If they think that a schoolmate will be criminalised, they will be less likely to report it. The research on sending sexual images showed that young people were scared if they appeared in the image—they were distressed about an image of themselves being shared—and they were distressed about reporting it, in case they would be criminalised. One of our messages would be that young people do not necessarily hear the nuance of messages, and we have to be careful about the message we give them, so that we do not deter them from seeking help around these issues.