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Is Upskirting Illegal? Understanding the Law

Upskirting is a form of sexual harassment that has been making headlines recently. It involves taking a photograph or video under someone’s clothing without their knowledge or consent in order to capture an image of their genitals or underwear. This invasive act violates privacy and can cause emotional distress and trauma for the victim. But what does the law say about upskirting?

This blog post will take a closer look at the legal framework around upskirting in England and Wales. We will explore what constitutes upskirting, where it can happen, and what the consequences are for perpetrators. We will also provide information on how victims can seek legal help and report an upskirt crime. Finally, we will discuss some of the defences available to those accused of upskirting and provide advice on what to do if you are a victim.

Understanding Upskirting

Upskirting, a term used to describe the act of capturing unauthorised photographs or videos under a person’s clothing, is a severe violation of privacy and personal boundaries. This invasive behaviour is often carried out without the individual’s consent and is driven by motives of sexual gratification or to humiliate and distress the victim. With the increasing prevalence of technology, particularly smartphones, upskirting has become more common in today’s society.

Definition and Context of Upskirting

Upskirting involves the non-consensual capturing of images underneath a person’s clothing, specifically focusing on their genitals, buttocks, or underwear. This intrusive behaviour is considered a criminal offence in England and Wales and Scotland under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The British government addressed this issue in April 2019, making upskirting illegal in England and Wales following a successful campaign led by Gina Martin. This new law aims to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. It is essential to recognise that upskirting violates a person’s privacy, often causing significant distress and humiliation.

Upskirting and English Law

The law regarding upskirting in England and Wales underwent a significant change with introducing of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019. This Act explicitly criminalises upskirting, making it a sexual offence and introducing new offences. The changes brought about by this Act are incorporated into section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act. This legislation was enacted following a campaign led by Gina Martin and received royal assent in February 2019. Before the Act, upskirting was not explicitly defined as a criminal offence, and perpetrators could only be prosecuted under other existing laws. The new legislation ensures that upskirting is recognised as a severe crime and holds perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Where can upskirting happen?

Upskirting can occur in public settings like shopping centres, public transport, or crowded events. Perpetrators exploit these public places to capture intrusive images without the victim’s knowledge discreetly. Being vigilant and aware of one’s surroundings is crucial to prevent becoming a victim of upskirting.

Consequences of Upskirting

Upskirting can have severe consequences for the victims, resulting in significant emotional, psychological, and social effects. Invading privacy and violating personal boundaries can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and humiliation. Individuals who fall victim to upskirting may experience anxiety, depression, and a loss of trust in others. The impact of this behaviour extends beyond the immediate incident, impacting the victim’s overall well-being and quality of life. It is crucial to raise awareness about the consequences of upskirting and provide support for those who have been affected. By understanding the profound effects of upskirting, we can work towards creating a society where this behaviour is not tolerated.

Effects on victims

Upskirting can have a profound impact on the mental and emotional well-being of victims of sexual abuse. Feelings of violation, helplessness, and self-blame may arise due to this invasive act. The loss of privacy and control over one’s own body can lead to a significant decline in confidence and self-esteem. These effects can extend beyond the immediate incident, affecting relationships, work, and other areas of life, causing immense distress and disruption. It is crucial to provide support and resources to help victims of sexual abuse recover from the trauma of upskirting. We can help victims navigate their challenges and begin the healing process by offering assistance and understanding.

What to do if you are a victim of upskirting

If you find yourself a victim of the upskirting offence, it is essential to take action and report the incident to the police. Make sure to preserve evidence supporting your case, such as screenshots or witness statements. Seek emotional support from friends, family, or professional counsellors to help you cope with the emotional impact of the incident. It’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the legal options and consider seeking legal advice. Remember that you are not alone in this situation; some resources and organisations can provide guidance and support. These steps allow you to assert your rights and work towards justice.

Next Steps if you are a victim

If you find yourself a victim of upskirting, it is crucial to take immediate action to protect yourself and seek justice. Start by reporting the incident to the police and providing them with any evidence or information you have. It is also essential to seek legal advice to understand your rights and explore potential legal actions against the perpetrator. Reach out to support groups or organisations that specialise in assisting victims of upskirting, as they can provide guidance and resources. Remember that you are not alone in this situation, and there are available resources to help you navigate through this difficult time.

How can victims of upskirting seek legal help?

Victims of upskirting seeking legal help can consult with specialised lawyers to guide them through their options, including filing a police report or pursuing criminal charges. These professionals can also advise on evidence preservation and navigating the legal process, while support organisations offer additional resources for victims.

What happens if I’m found guilty of upskirting?

Offenders can face criminal charges and potential imprisonment if found guilty of upskirting. The severity of the offence determines the punishment, which can include fines, community service, or rehabilitation programs. Convictions may result in a criminal record and registration as a sex offender. Upskirting is considered a specific offence in England and Wales.

What To Do If You Are Falsely Accused Of Child Abuse

If you find yourself falsely accused of child abuse, it is crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified professional who can guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected. Gathering evidence that disproves the false accusation and supports your innocence is also essential. Cooperating with authorities and providing any relevant information or witnesses can help strengthen your case. Throughout the investigation, it is necessary to maintain open communication with your legal counsel to stay informed and prepared. It’s vital to be aware of the emotional and reputational impact of being falsely accused and to be prepared to navigate these challenges.

What punishment can upskirting perpetrators face?

Perpetrators of upskirting can face severe consequences for their actions. Upskirting is considered a form of sexual harassment and is illegal in many countries, including the UK. The severity of punishment varies depending on factors such as the victim’s age, the offence’s frequency, and whether a device was used to capture the image. Perpetrators can be subjected to fines, imprisonment, and even placement on the sex offender registry. Victims must report upskirting incidents to the authorities so that the culprits can be held accountable. Educating the public about the illegality and harms of upskirting and implementing measures to make reporting easier can help deter potential perpetrators.

Public Interest

The criminalisation of upskirting, a crime of voyeurism, serves the public interest by protecting privacy and dignity. It helps maintain public decency and discourages voyeuristic behaviour, such as the voyeurism act. By recognising upskirting as a criminal offence, society conveys that such behaviour will not be tolerated. Protecting individuals from upskirting contributes to a safer and more respectful community. The public support for laws against upskirting reflects societal values and expectations. Upholding these laws ensures that victims are protected, and perpetrators are held accountable. It also highlights the importance of consent and personal boundaries. By criminalising upskirting, the UK parliament has taken a proactive step towards combating this invasive and non-consensual behaviour.


Sentencing for upskirting can vary depending on the circumstances, ranging from fines to imprisonment. Factors considered during sentencing include the level of intrusion, harm caused by the offence, and the offender’s history. The court aims to deliver a punishment proportionate to the act’s seriousness. In some cases, rehabilitation and treatment programs may be incorporated into the sentence to address any underlying issues. Sentencing decisions are made based on legal guidelines and considerations of justice and public protection, ensuring that the punishment reflects the nature of the offence.

The Code for Crown Prosecutors

The Code for Crown Prosecutors serves as a guide for prosecutors when it comes to making charging decisions. It outlines the principles of fairness, proportionality, and public interest that should be considered in upskirting cases. When applying the Code, prosecutors carefully assess the evidence, legal requirements, and any potential defences that may arise. By following this Code, consistency and transparency are ensured in decision-making across all cases. This helps maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system and upholds the principles of justice. Keeping the Code demonstrates the commitment to addressing upskirting as a severe criminal offence and holding culprits accountable.

Prosecution guidance

Prosecution guidance is crucial in handling upskirting cases effectively, providing prosecutors with essential assistance. It serves to clarify legal definitions, evidential requirements, and recommended courses of action. By referring to this guidance, prosecutors can assess the strength of the evidence and determine whether a case should proceed. Consistency is ensured throughout the prosecution process, as the direction helps to ensure fair treatment of upskirting issues. Regular updates are made to the tip, reflecting evolving legal interpretations and societal changes. This ensures prosecutors have the most up-to-date information when handling upskirting cases.

Are there any legal defences against charges of upskirting?

Legal defences against charges of upskirting include lack of intent, consent from the victim, having a legitimate purpose or lawful authority, challenging evidence or procedural errors, and proving mistaken identity.

What should you do if you are a victim of upskirting?

If you find yourself a victim of upskirting, taking immediate action is essential. Report the incident to the police, seek support from friends or a counsellor, preserve evidence, and be cautious with online sharing. Familiarise yourself with local laws and resources for assistance.

How can you report an upskirt crime?

To report an upskirt crime, contact your local police department or emergency services. Provide detailed information about the incident, including the time, location, and description of the offender, if possible. Preserve any evidence that could assist the investigation and cooperate with law enforcement. Seek legal advice to understand your rights and options as a victim.


Upskirting violates privacy and can have severe consequences for the victims involved. Understanding the laws surrounding upskirting is essential to ensure that justice is served and victims are protected. If you or someone you know has been a victim of upskirting, it is crucial to seek legal help and report the crime to the authorities. Remember, you are not alone; resources are available to support you through this difficult time. If you need assistance or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help and provide the guidance you need.


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