UK to make 'revenge porn' punishable by prison

UK to make 'revenge porn' punishable by prison

UK authorities are to make revenge porn – when people publish sexually explicit pictures of former partners – a new offence punishable by up to two years in jail.

Distribution of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress will be made a specific offence in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

The move comes after figures uncovered by the press showed children as young as 11 had been victims.

The issue was brought into sharp focus after celebrities including pop stars Rihanna and Tulisa Contostavlos fell victim to the cruel craze.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The fact that there are individuals who are cruelly distributing intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent is almost beyond belief.

“We want those who fall victim to this type of disgusting behaviour to know that we are on their side and will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice.

“That is why we will change the law and make it absolutely clear to those who act in this way that they could face prison.”

The change will cover the sharing of images both online and offline. It will mean that images posted to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be caught by the offence, as well as those that are shared via text message.

Images shared via email, on a website or the distribution of physical copies will also be caught.

Those convicted will face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The offence will cover photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public.

Victims and others will be able to report offences to the police to investigate.

The change in the law will be made via an amendment to the Criminal Justice & Courts Bill, which includes a number of measures to toughen up sentencing. The amendment is likely to be laid on Monday.

There were 149 allegations of crimes involving revenge pornography during the last two-and-a-half years, according to the eight police forces in England and Wales with data on it.

The figures, believed to be the first into its prevalence, showed the vast majority of victims are women – with only six incidents resulting in any sort of police caution or charge.

Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive for the charity Victim Support, said: “This type of behaviour can be extremely distressing for its victims causing them significant psychological harm.

“We are pleased that people who commit these gross violations of privacy will now face prosecution and victims of revenge porn know they have the full backing of the law.”

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