Upskirting is set to become a criminal offence in England and Wales, carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison following new legislation which passed its third reading in the House of Lords.
The legislation, which has existed in Scotland since 2010, is now only awaiting the formality of Royal Assent
The decision comes following a campaign to criminalise upskirting by Gina Martin, who was targeted at a festival 18 months ago whilst at the British Summer Time music festival when a man put his phone between her legs and took pictures of her crotch.
After informing the police, she was shocked to discover upskirting was not a specific offence.
Following the event she posted a status update on Facebook detailing the experience, her post went viral with other women sharing similar experiences, which led to an online petition to have the case reopened which gained over 50,000 signatures.
MP Wera Hobhouse discovered up the campaign and following encouragement from Government ministers, Ms Martin brought a private members’ bill backing the creation of an upskirting offence.
Ms Martin’s campaign secured government backing on 15 July last year and the Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill was put before Parliament only days later.
Speaking after the bill was approved Ms Martin said: “Eighteen months ago I was upskirted at a music festival and I decided I wasn’t going to brush it off.
“I was tired of ‘ignoring it’. I felt this was wrong and I was astounded to learn that upskirting wasn’t a sexual offence. I wanted to change this for everyone because the least we deserve is to be able to wear what we want without non-consensual photos being taken of us.”