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'Upskirting' figures revealed for Devon and Cornwall

'Upskirting' figures revealed for Devon and Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 1:13pm 20th February 2018. (Updated at 4:28pm 20th February 2018)

The number of people in Devon and Cornwall who have had photos taken up their skirts without consent has been revealed.

Figures from the Press Association show there were nine reports of so-called 'upskirting' here over the past three years.

All offences were against women, and included taking an indecent photograph of a child, voyeurism and conspiring to outrage public decency.

Allegations included an offender seen walking up and down the street with a mobile phone cradle in an upward position to film up the skirts of passing pedestrians, while another victim said she turned around to see an offender bent over on the floor with his camera up her skirt.

Five people were charged.

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Of the nine incidents referenced by the Press Association, five we managed to charge, three were dropped and one is still active, which shows we still have the powers to protect and convict in this area where appropriate.

"Also these stats are for a three year period which does show how rare this occurrence is in our force area.

"That said, any new laws that can help us protect victims of this crime is always welcomed by the police."

Nationally, children as young as ten have fallen victim to upskirting.

Now there are calls to make it a criminal offence, as there is no current law banning it.

Victims, politicians and campaign groups have called on the Government to implement "an effective criminal law".

The campaign for legislation follows the movement for clearer laws on image-based sex abuse - or revenge porn - which saw legislation come in to force in 2015 in response to a legal grey area.

The first official figures come from a freedom of information request detailing upskirting incidents, which highlights many of the issues facing officers dealing with reports.

The true scale of the problem is likely to be much bigger, according to campaigners, who say police face difficulties being able to log and investigate cases.

There was insufficient evidence to prosecute in several cases, including one involving a 10-year-old girl in 2015, according to Avon and Somerset Police.

Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and also an expert on sexual violence, said: "The Government's continuing failure to provide an effective criminal law against upskirting breaches women's human rights.

"We are entitled to protection from degrading and abusive treatment, whether offline or online - and we are entitled to have our privacy in public respected.

"We are also entitled to a law that is fit for purpose, a law that treats this abuse as a form of sexual offence and that provides anonymity to all complainants. Only then will victims feel more willing to come forward and report to the police and support prosecutions."

Conservative MP Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Select Committee, said it was "concerning" that police might feel they do not have adequate powers to tackle the "horrific crime".

"Sometimes the law isn't straightforward in its application and new laws can help," she said. "In the case of revenge pornography there are now more than 500 cases prosecuted a year."

Sarah Green, of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said the figures showed police were "clearly struggling to recognise upskirting distinctly".

Campaigner Gina Martin told Sky News last year: "Every woman I know has experienced sexual harassment on some level. I'm bored of women's bodies being public properties."

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