Today is Day One of the Voyeurism Bill committee. I’m sitting on the committee as Labour whip alongside our frontbench Shadow Justice Minister Yasmin Qureshi.
The Voyeurism Bill focuses on legislation to criminalise ‘upskirting’ – the act of covertly photographing underneath someone’s clothing without their consent. It is often performed in crowded public places, for example on public transport or at music festivals, where it is difficult to notice the perpetrator.
In England and Wales there is currently no specific criminal offence to cover this type of conduct. It would instead be prosecuted under the more general offences of outraging public decency or voyeurism. There can be difficulties in satisfying the requirements of these more general offences, which in some cases means that prosecutions cannot be brought.
The Bill came about following the campaign by Gina Martin – a victim of upskirting – and the Private Member’s Bill by Wera Hobhouse which was shamefully blocked at Second Reading.