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Upskirting: A guide to the new law which comes into force today

Upskirting victim Gina Martin, 26, with her lawyer Ryan Whelan. Credit: PA

Upskirting has officially been made a criminal offence in England and Wales following a high-profile campaign.

The law came into force after writer Gina Martin, 27, spent 18 months in courts trying to make the craze illegal after two men took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017.

Research shows children as young as seven and even pensioners have fallen victim to the crime.

Here are the key points on the new law:

Prior to Friday, men who upskirted would have been prosecuted for outraging public decency. Credit: PA

What is upskirting?

Under the law, the practice is when someone takes a video or photo up another person's clothing so they can see their genitals or underwear.

While many of the cases involve men targeting women, the roles can be reversed.

Until Friday, no legislation existing which explicitly outlawed upskirting in England and Wales.

Have people been prosecuted for upskirting in the past?

Scotland, which has its own legal and judicial system, has outlawed upskirting for the past decade.

Yet elsewhere in Britain, the laws have not been updated to mirror the advances in technology.

Under previous legislation in England and Wales, people could be convicted for voyeurism, public disorder or indecency

Campaigners claimed these laws were not adequate as they would require witnesses to the crime, sometimes which were not possible.

Why couldn't the Gina Martin upskirting case be prosecuted?

Prior to Friday, men who upskirted would have been prosecuted for outraging public decency.

Yet the offence of outraging public decency does not apply in all instances, which means women are not protected in all circumstances.

Also, outraging public decency does not reflect the sexual nature of the offence and the personal harm caused to the individual, as the crime is committed against the public.

Those convicted of upskirting could face up to two years in prison. Credit: PA

What does the new law say?

The Voyeurism Act allows upskirting to be treated as a sexual offence and ensure that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders’ register.

It will capture instances where the purpose is to obtain sexual gratification or cause humiliation, distress or alarm.

What sort of sentence could a convicted upskirter receive?

A conviction at magistrates’ court would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a fine.

A more serious offence, tried in crown court, would carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

Police will be able to arrest people on suspicion of upskirting from Friday.

What about pictures or images taken before the law came into force?

The law cannot be applied retrospectively – which means images taken before Friday cannot be considered specific upskirting offences.

Older images could still fall foul of other laws, such as outraging public decency.