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Upskirting legislation in practise

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Crown Prosecution Service, CPS, four convictions, 'upskirting', illegal, new legislation, April 2019, prison sentence, community serivce, sex offenders register“The CPS takes this behaviour extremely seriously and anyone engaging in it can expect to face criminal charges.”

Four men have so far been convicted under the new legislation that made upskirting illegal and came into force in England and Wales in April this year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has revealed.

‘Upskirting’ is a colloquial term referring to the action of placing equipment such as a camera or mobile phone below a person’s clothing to take a voyeuristic photograph without their permission.

Prosecutors have brought charges of both recording and operating equipment under clothing without consent, using the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 which carries a maximum 2-year prison sentence.

The first successful prosecution was against Salim Ahmed, 33, in early July. He was spotted by police over a two-hour period filming on his iPhone at the entrance to Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, London.

When his phone was seized, 16 recordings taken under women’s skirts or dresses were discovered. His sentence was a community order with a three-month curfew requirement. None of the women have been identified.

Michael Adjetey, 28, was convicted after being caught on CCTV taking pictures of women’s buttocks at a TK Maxx store in Hackney, London, on 16 and 17 July. He subsequently admitted he had taken hundreds of upskirting photos. He was sentenced to a two-year community order, with a notification period – commonly referred to as ‘being placed on the sex offenders’ register’ – of five years.

Thomas Hetherington, 21, was the first to be confronted and reported directly by his victim for the new offence after targeting her at a bus depot in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on 23 July.

He pleaded guilty to upskirting on 13 August and was sentenced to a two-year community order with a notification period of five years.

Most recently, Daren Timson-Hunt, 54, at the time a Department for International Trade barrister, took the total to four after he admitted taking covert images of a London Underground passenger on her way to an interview in June.

He was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and given a 24-month community order, made to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years and pay costs of £175.

He was not, as various media reported, pleased with photographers trying to take his picture when he was outside the Court.

Siobhan Blake, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Mersey-Cheshire and the CPS’s national lead for sexual offence prosecutions, said: “Upskirting is a humiliating violation that leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed.

“It is really positive to see our prosecutors making use of the new legislation, with four men so far convicted of this repulsive offence.”

“All of the victims were simply going about their business on public transport, shopping or attending events when they were opportunistically targeted,” Blake continued.

“The CPS takes this behaviour extremely seriously and anyone engaging in it can expect to face criminal charges.”

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