Dozens of upskirting crimes recorded in Merseyside in past two years
Upskirting is a form of voyeurism where someone uses a camera or phone to take photos or videos underneath a person’s clothes without their permission.
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Dozens of upskirting crimes were recorded in Merseyside in the past two years, new figures show.
Upskirting is a form of voyeurism where someone uses a camera or phone to take photos or videos underneath a person's clothes without their permission. It was outlawed illegal in England and Wales in 2019.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition said a focus on public awareness campaigns and school education on healthy sex and relationships is needed to tackle the crime.
Figures obtained through a freedom of information request by RADAR show 26 upskirting offences were recorded in the last two years by Merseyside Police. Of them, 10 were in 2022 and 16 were in 2021.
Of the 24 victims with a recorded gender, 23 were female and one was male.
Andrea Simon, End Violence against Women Coalition director, said: "It is vital we take this behaviour seriously, so those who do it know they will face consequences for it, but also to prevent the potential escalation of sexual offending.
She added: "We need to think about upskirting as connected to all the other forms of harassment and abuse that women experience, it is a harmful violation in its own right and it's also connected to the fears that women have about the risk of other forms of sexual violence, and the calculations we are always making about our safety.
She said the way the justice system investigates and prosecutes violence against women is “fraught with challenges” and low charging rates.
"We must focus more on the prevention of abuse by changing attitudes through public awareness campaigns, and vital work in schools with young people having access to healthy sex and relationship education."
Across England and Wales, 721 upskirting crimes were recorded in 2021 and 2022 across 38 forces – 96% of victims with a recorded gender were female.
For the 37 forces that provided details of how the incidents were followed up, 86 (12%) of these crimes resulted in a charge or summons.
In Merseyside, six of the upskirting crimes led to a charge or summons at the time of the request.
A spokesperson for victim support charity SARSAS explained upskirting is part of a spectrum of sexual violence which can be devastating and long-lasting in affecting someone’s mental and emotional health, social life and relationships.
They added: "Alongside some of the trauma symptoms caused by the act of upskirting itself, many victim-survivors also live with the fear that the images may still be out in the public domain and wonder who has and hasn’t seen them.
"This can have a further profound effect on mental health and self-esteem, stopping them from living their lives in the way they would have done before."
Separate Ministry of Justice figures show there have been 356 prosecutions involving upskirting since the law was changed. Of them, 262 led to convicted.
A Government spokesperson added 60% of offenders convicted of voyeurism in the past year were handed a suspended sentence, or placed immediately in custody.
They said: "We created a specific offence to tackle upskirting because it is an abhorrent and degrading crime which no one, especially children, should have to experience.
"We are also investing record funding into policing and up to £7.4 million in projects to tackle the root causes of violence against women and girls."