McArthur: Time to review law on upskirting

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has written to the Lord Advocate to query the very low numbers of prosecutions and convictions for the offence of upskirting in Scotland as the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that the law has only been used a handful of times a year since it was introduced in 2010.

In response to a parliamentary question from Mr McArthur, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf revealed that there were never more than 5 prosecutions or convictions, with an average of 3.5 prosecutions and 3.2 convictions per year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat approached Police Scotland to ask how many times upskirting offences had been reported to them but were told that this information could not be provided, citing cost reasons.

Expert analysis has suggested there are loopholes in the law, which at present only covers images perpetrated for motives of sexual gratification or causing distress.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse has been working with campaigners to introduce a comprehensive bill making upskirting illegal in England and Wales.

Mr McArthur said:

"If this news means that the offence is being committed as infrequently as these figures suggest this would, of course, be very welcome. However, this would seem to be somewhat counter-intuitive and rather suggests that there may be some procedural or legal obstacle preventing a more representative number of cases being brought forward and disposed of by the courts.

"If such obstacles do exist the risk is that those who are victims of this unpleasant and distressing behaviour will be less willing to come forward with complaints in the future. 

"I would welcome the view of the Lord Advocate on whether or not the law in this area, and guidance to prosecutors, remains fit for purpose."

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