‘Revenge porn’ to be made crime in Britain

Revenge porn — when people publish sexually explicit pictures of former partners — is to be made a new offence in the UK, to be 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 Association 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 phenomenon.

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.

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.

Officers will work with the Crown Prosecution Service to take forward cases for prosecution.

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.

Figures uncovered by the Press Association showed that schoolgirls were among those targeted, while adults had been blackmailed into having sex with their tormentor after indecent — and previously private — images were posted onto the internet.

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 were women — with only six incidents resulting in any sort of police caution or charge.

More in this section

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox