Upskirting

I have supported, from the outset, the campaign launched by Gina Martin to change the law so that the disgraceful practice of upskirting is made a specific sexual offence in law.

Upskirting is humiliating for victims and a huge invasion of their privacy. Unfortunately, a gap in the law has allowed people who have taken upskirt photographs in public places to escape prosecution. The law must be changed so that women are protected, offenders are punished and potential offenders are deterred.

I was therefore deeply disappointed that a Private Members’ Bill which sought to amend the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to make certain acts of voyeurism – including upskirting – an offence was blocked in the House of Commons by one MP on June 15.

On June 21, the government introduced its own Bill to make upskirting a criminal offence. I am pleased that relentless pressure from campaigners has finally forced the government to accept that specific legislation is needed to put an end to this intrusive, abusive and sexist practice.

While I welcome the decision to bring forward the legislation, delays in getting to this point have been unnecessary and have caused needless suffering. The government should not have waited this long to act on this issue.

The Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill is expected to have its second reading before the summer recess. I believe it is vital for the government to ensure that this Bill will have all its stages as quickly as possible.

I will continue to support this legislation through Parliament to ensure that the law is changed as soon as possible and that there is a strong majority against any reactionary attempts to derail this important step towards justice.