Child aged 14 among upskirting victims in Yorkshire last year, police figures reveal

Children as young as 14 were among victims targeted by sexual predators in upskirting crimes last year, data has revealed.

Figures revealed by police forces across England and Wales under freedom of information laws show scores of people reported the violating crime last year, despite Covid-19 restrictions forcing people to stay at home throughout parts of the year.

Upskirting is a sexual offence whereby criminals covertly take intimate pictures or videos of a person - often up a person's skirt or dress - in public places without their consent. Victims are predominantly women and girls.

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A 26-year-old woman in West Yorkshire was among the victims last year, after she reported a man crouching beside her trying to take a picture up her dress while she was out shopping in July.

Scores of people reported being victims of upskirting last year, despite coronavirus restrictions limiting the amount of time people could spend outside their homes

Meanwhile, a 14-year-old boy was also targeted, after reporting someone who filmed him while using the toilet at school.

In two other incidents in West Yorkshire, a 43-year-old woman reported a stranger who leaned back to look up her skirt on a bus, while a 30-year-old woman also reported a man taking a picture up her skirt while he was standing behind her in a queue.

Elsewhere in the country, a 14-year-old girl was subjected to an upskirting crime in Cambridgeshire in October.

Of the 33 police forces that responded to requests, there were 196 reports of upskirting in 2020 with offences reported to have taken place in a range of public places such as supermarkets, parks and on public transport.

Gina Martin, who successfully campaigned for a change in the law to make upskirting a specific criminal offence in 2019 after two men took an explicit picture of her at a music festival, said: “These numbers show that sexual assault prevails even when society comes to a standstill.

“Upskirting is a covert type of assault that benefits from busy crowds as a distraction, but equally benefits from quiet or private areas where there are a lack of people to witness it, so I’m not surprised at these numbers, but I am disappointed.

“Time and time again we are shown that sexual assault is endemic and upskirting is only one part of that.”

Younger people were more likely to be victims, according to the 10 police forces that had age-specific data.

Some 44 of the 96 incidents from those forces involved people aged 10-19, while 26 were aged 20-29.

Three incidents were reported to police involving two female and one male victim in their 60s.

According to the police forces with relevant data, 131 incidents involved female victims and five involved males.

Some 18 allegations resulted in a criminal charge or other action, according to forces with relevant data.