Four men have been convicted of upskirting after legislation made the practice illegal almost half a year ago.
Upskirting – the act of secretly taking a photo or filming under an individual’s skirt without their permission – was already illegal in Scotland but only criminalised in England and Wales in April.
The crime is now punishable by up to two years in custody under the Voyeurism Act and those found guilty can be put on the sex offender register in the most serious cases.
The law comes into force after a high-profile campaign by Gina Martin – a 27-year-old writer who spent 18 months fighting to make the phenomenon a specific offence after two men took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017.
Salim Ahmed, a 33-year-old shop worker, was the first person to be prosecuted in early July. He was noticed by police over a two-hour period filming on his phone at the entrance to Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park in north London. Some 16 recordings taken under women’s skirts or dresses were unearthed when his iPhone was confiscated but none of the victims was identified.
Michael Adjetey, 28, was the second to be convicted after CCTV captured him taking photos of women at a TK Maxx store in Hackney in east London on two consecutive days in July. After being caught, he confessed he had taken hundreds of upskirting pictures.
Thomas Hetherington, 21, was the third individual to be successfully convicted after seeking out his upskirting victim at a bus depot in Wakefield back in July and pleading guilty to upskirting in August. Mr Hetherington is the first offender whose victim confronted him and directly reported him to the police for the new offence.
Daren Timpson-Hunt, a 54-year-old lawyer, became the fourth to be convicted after he last week pleaded guilty to “operating equipment” beneath another individual’s clothing while at Embankment Tube station in central London at the beginning of July. He is due to be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.
Siobhan Blake, the national lead for sexual offence prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Upskirting is a humiliating violation that leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed. It is really positive to see our prosecutors making use of the new legislation, with four men so far convicted of this repulsive offence. All of the victims were simply going about their business on public transport, shopping or attending events when they were opportunistically targeted. The CPS takes this behaviour extremely seriously and anyone engaging in it can expect to face criminal charges.”
It comes after experts told The Independent growing numbers of women are being covertly filmed on spy cameras as covert recording technology becomes cheaper and more readily available.
Peeping toms are fitting clandestine cameras in rental and student properties or public spaces including toilets, swimming pool cubicles, changing rooms and tanning salons, in order to obtain explicit photos of women without gaining their permission.