What to do if you have been recorded doing a private sexual act without your consent
What is Voyeurism?
In the UK, it is against the law to record a private or sexual image or video of someone without their knowledge or consent for sexual gratification. This is covered under Section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act (2003).
There are four main offences within the voyeurism legislation:
- Getting sexual gratification from watching another person doing a private sexual act and not knowing they have been watched
- Operating equipment with the intention of having them or someone else watching for sexual gratification from an unconsenting person doing a private act
- Recording an unconsenting person doing a private act and does with intention of them or someone else getting sexual gratification
- Installing equipment, or constructs or adapts a structure or part of a structure with the intention of watching an unconsenting person doing a private act for sexual gratification
If someone is found guilty of this offence, they can receive a maximum prison sentence of two years.
What is Upskirting and when was it criminalised?
In 2019, upskirting was included in a subsection of voyeurism within the Sexual Offences Act (2003).
It made it an offence for someone to:
- Operate equipment beneath the clothing of another person with the intention of themselves or someone else seeing the buttocks, genitals or underwear of the person recorded, without their consent or a reasonable belief that they consent.
- Record images under someone’s clothing of their buttocks, genitals or underwear in order to view it themselves or show it to someone else, without the consent of the person recorded.
The law requires that there is an intention on the part of the perpetrator to either; obtain sexual gratification, or cause humiliation, alarm or distress to the victim.
Someone found guilty of this offence will face a maximum of two years in prison. All voyeurism offences are classed as Sexual Offences: this means that the victim is entitled to anonymity, meaning that they won’t be identified by the media nor any information that might identify them such as a photo or address.
What to do if you've been a victim of Voyeurism or Upskirting?
Keep calm and don't panic.
You haven’t done anything wrong and what’s happened is not your fault. You are not alone and we are here to help you. We know it’s easier said than done but try to keep calm and follow this advice.
Collect evidence of what has happened, this may include; details of the perpetrator, where it happened and screenshots of any communication where you have been told about the content.
Accessing free legal advice
We work alongside the SPITE project at Queen Mary University London who provide free legal advice for victims of intimate image abuse and those who have had private sexual images recorded without consent.