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Gina Martin's campaign results in new upskirting offence

By Alan Smith

A new law came into force this morning making it an offence to take photographs up women's skirts.

Under the Voyeurism Act, offenders could face up to two years in jail and be placed on the sex offenders register. The law applies to England and Wales - Scotland had already introduced its own version.

KentOnline revealed as of July last year only one report of so-called upskirting has been made to police in Kent over the last three years.

Upskirting is now an offence Stock image
Upskirting is now an offence Stock image

Since then, several incidents have made it to court, a man from Folkestone was given a community order after he was caught taking photographs up the skirt of a woman on a train.

The bill is a victory for Gina Martin who campaigned incessantly to make it a specific offence after two men took a picture up her skirt, without her consent at a Killers festival in Hyde Park 2017.

Miss Martin, 27, reported the incident to the police but as the behaviour was not then a specific offence her case was closed. She subsequently started an online petition which received 50,000 signatures urging the police to reopen the case.

Her campaign was picked up by Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse who introduced a private members' bill backing the creation of an upskirting offence which initially failed to make it through the Commons.

Later the Government backed the campaign and passed the new act.

Deborah Cartwright, CEO of Oasis Domestic Abuse Service in Margate (6563585)
Deborah Cartwright, CEO of Oasis Domestic Abuse Service in Margate (6563585)

Speaking last year, Deborah Cartwright, chief executive of Oasis Domestic Abuse Service based in Margate, said the small number of reports in our county could be a culture thing.

She said: "My first thought is - is that because women are just in a position where they're tolerating this sort of behaviour?

"I don't think it's for a lack of trying on the police's part. We believe we have to work with everyone to execute change, and we need men who say 'be respectful'.

"This is just about basic respect and you don't have the right to humiliate someone.

"We would tell them [victims] to report it because it's an infringement of your rights."

Previously, offenders could have been charged with outraging public decency, but to be an offence that required someone to have witnessed the act - which is seldom the case.

There were 94 complaints of "upskirting" made to police forces across the country last year.

The new law will also prevent pictures being taken up Scotsmen's kilts.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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