Upskirting law: this is what to do if you are a victim

Posted by
Lauren Geall
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woman standing on a London underground platform in a skirt as a train speeds past

Upskirting is now illegal. Here’s what to do if you want to report an incident. 

In February a campaign to make upskirting a criminal offence in England and Wales came to a successful conclusion after months of work.

From the 12 April that act comes into force, making upskirting a specific punishable offence by up to two years in prison under the Voyeurism Act.

Until today upskirting was only able to be prosecuted under the Outraging Public Decency offence.

Common places for the crime to take place include on public transport such as tubes and trains, and in crowded places such as festivals or nightclubs.

Gina Martin, the woman behind the campaign to make upskirting illegal, told the BBC she hoped the change in law would help people to “feel comfortable” to report such crimes. 

The 27-year-old, who took home the Equality Champion of the Year title at our Remarkable Women Awards last month, started the #stopskirtingtheissue campaign after she was upskirted at a festival in 2017. 

Gina Martin posing with her award at the Stylist Remarkable Women Awards on the 5th of March
Gina Martin with her Equality Champion of the Year award at the Remarkable Women Awards last month

In a statement on her Instagram, she asked her followers to make the most of the new law by calling problematic behaviour out, supporting victims, and reporting it “if you see it or if it happens to you”.

If you have been targeted by an upskirter, the police and other organisations are there to help and support you. With the help of Gina’s work, upskirting is now a crime – if you’ve been a victim, here’s what you need to know to report it.

What constitutes as upskirting?

Upskirting usually involves someone taking a picture or using equipment to observe underneath your clothing without your knowledge or consent, with the intention of viewing your genitals or buttocks.

This definition applies whether or not you are wearing underwear.

An offence is referred to as upskirting when the perpetrator commits the offence to obtain sexual gratification, or humiliate, alarm or distress you.

The new law also covers people who say the images were just taken for a laugh, and paparazzi who capture intrusive shots.

Anyone, of any gender, can be a victim. 

girl in a skirt walking along the street with a man
Under new laws, perpetrators could face up to two years in prison for taking a picture underneath your clothing without your consent

What punishment can offenders receive?

Under the new law, perpetrators can face up to two years in prison for committing the offence.

Because upskirting is now considered a sexual offence, the most serious culprits could also end up on the sex offenders register.

What should you do if you believe you have been a victim of upskirting?

To report a crime, you can either call 999 in an emergency (such as when the crime is still taking place, or the perpetrator is threatening violence, for example). In other non-emergency situations call 101, or report the crime in person or online with your local police department. You can find contact details for your local police using this database online.

What happens next?

Once you’ve reported an upskirting incident, the police will begin to collect evidence to begin their investigation. As part of this process they will ask you to provide as much detail as possible, so they can write a statement.

If you feel distressed and need a break during this process, you are entitled to take one.

After the interview has been completed, they will ask you to read the statement and check all the details to make sure they’ve got it right, and you’ll have to sign it. 

Cropped hand writing
Once the police have a statement, they will ask you to sign it to check that all the details are correct

They should also give you the chance to make another statement called a Victim Personal Statement, which gives you a chance to explain how the crime has affected you. This can be taken into account if the crime goes to trial.

When you report the crime you will be given three separate details, so make sure you keep hold of these in a safe place. This will include a written confirmation of the crime you’ve reported, a crime reference number, and details for the police officer dealing with your case.

The police also have to explain to you what will happen next, tell you how often they’ll be able to give you an update on your case, carry out an assessment to see what support could be available to you, and ask if you want to join a Victim Contact Scheme, who can give you more information about the investigation and the justice process.

The police will be able to explain all of this when you report the crime if you’re unsure about anything. 


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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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