Wera's Private Members Bill aims to make 'upskirting' a specific criminal offence. She introduced it to Parliament on the 6th March 2018, two days before international women's day.
Upskirting is the practice of taking a photo from beneath someone without their knowledge or consent. The issue has been championed by campaigner Gina Martin after falling victim to the practice over the summer.
The current law doesn’t cover upskirting in many circumstances. It can be prosecuted under outraging public decency, but this relies on other people being able to see the photo, not the act itself. Voyeurism laws fall down if the victim isn’t in a private place; there’s nothing to protect victims in crowds for example.
Campaigners, Police and Crime Commissioners and politicians have all called for upskirting to be made a specific criminal offence, and based on a poll run by ITV, 96% of the public support the move.
Wera has said of the current situation:
“The fact that this is not a sexual offence in England baffles me, as much as it horrifies me. In Scotland upskirting was made an offence back in 2009. There is simply no excuse for ignoring this issue any longer.”
The government have said that they are seriously considering the bill.
“I welcome the government’s decision to consider my bill, however, the fact of the matter is the longer this government takes to change the law, the more victims there will be."
“It is simply not the case that the law is adequate as it currently stands and to state further education is the silver bullet to help police prosecute is laughable. There has been clear calls from the police and the public to make upskirting a specific criminal offence."
The bill's second reading is 11th May, and is available to view online here.