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:

It is interesting that we are going from lots of schools not even excluding a child who has been proven to be involved in sexual bullying or harassment to moving to prosecution. It would be good to think about the different steps that are appropriate at different ages for a child and different kinds of offence.

There have been situations where young women who have been raped in school—a very serious sexual assault—have had to go to school when the same children are still in the school—the people who were guilty of the offences. It feels to me that there is a big gap between ignoring the offence and prosecuting the child. There must be some sensible steps that we could take.

None of this is to say that this law should or should not happen. I am not really commenting on whether the law should exist, but I think, long before a child is prosecuted, far more steps should be taken, and much earlier. It is very unlikely that somebody would go to a serious offence from nothing. It is very likely that a child who ends up taking photos, sharing sexual images or physically assaulting somebody will have done what we would consider to be more mild offences, which will not have been picked up or taken seriously.

I know that the Women and Equalities Committee report found that lots of cases were dismissed. Lots of complaints, mainly from girls, were very easily dismissed in their school and not taken seriously. You wonder whether those boys just did not get the message that it is completely unacceptable to behave like that.