A police boss is calling for tough new legislation to punish the sexually intrusive practice of upskirting.
According to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, secretly photographing underneath a woman’s clothing without her consent should be a sexual offence.
The perverts who take the pictures often make things even more distressing for the victims by uploading the images onto the internet.
An online campaign by one victim, London writer Gina Martin, 25, has already amassed more than 70,000 signatures.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, of which Mr Jones is a member, has also spoken out against the “invasive and appalling practice”.
The UK Government is being urged to criminalise the behaviour and introduce legislation in the forthcoming Courts Bill to update the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Mr Jones said: “There should certainly be new legislation so that the law can catch up with the new problems of the here and now. As things stand there is a gap in the law.
“Upskirting appears to be a growing problem and it is something that we should act upon to make sure that it is punished appropriately.
“It is a classic example of misogyny in a public place and there is no room in society for this form of totally inappropriate behaviour.
“What makes things even worse is that the perpetrator often compounds these acts by up-loading these images onto the internet.
“Voyeurism is already classed as an offence and there is no reason in my view why upskirting should not be treated in exactly the same way.
“By creating a specific sexual offence covering the practice of ‘upskirting’ we will be providing the police with more of the tools they need to help bring perpetrators of these appalling acts to justice.
“Making this a specific sexual offence would mean proper recognition of the intent of the perpetrator and the real distress and sense of violation caused to the victim. In addition, it would allow for the range of sentencing and disposal options that are available in respect of sexual offences
“Updating the law would also raise the public’s awareness of this deviant behaviour, give the police more clarity about what action they can take to purse prosecutions whilst at the same time it would send a clear message that these acts are totally unacceptable.
“I am calling on the Government to act swiftly and decisively to ensure that justice is no longer denied to the victims already suffering from this disgraceful practice. The Justice Secretary should look to include measures in the forthcoming Courts Bill to tackle this appalling practice and update the law to protect victims.
“Quite simply, this is sexual offending and should be treated as such.”