Yorkshire man took picture up women's skirt on bus as police reveal true extent of upskirting across region

Yorkshire's largest police force - West Yorkshire Police - had six offences reported to them.
Yorkshire's largest police force - West Yorkshire Police - had six offences reported to them.
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A man took a picture up a woman's skirt on a bus in Yorkshire as the true extent of upskirting across the region has been revealed for the first time.

Across the country, the first figures on the impact of the new upskirting law, known as Voyeurism (Offences) Act, show almost one victim a day has contacted police since its introduction in April - many of which were schoolchildren.

In Yorkshire, there were 23 offences of upskirting reported in the first six months since the law came into fruition.

Yorkshire's largest police force - West Yorkshire Police - had six offences reported to them. Only one incident - where the man took a picture up an 18-year-old woman's skirt while she was on a bus - resulted in a charge under the new law.

Of the other five incidents, all victims were female and aged between 21-years-old and 36-years-old.

Evidential difficulties prevented three cases progressing, while the other two failed when no suspect was identified.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Cowley, of West Yorkshire Police’s Safeguarding Central Governance Unit, said: “The introduction of specific new offences in relation to ‘upskirting’ are assisting us in bringing more offenders to justice and provide better protection for victims.

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“The figures within the Freedom of Information request on all voyeurism offences cover a broad range of incidents, each with their own circumstances and it would require more detailed analysis to draw any specific conclusions from them.

"What is clear, however, is that the number of these offences recorded remains very low in comparison to other sexual offences. Difficulties in identifying a suspect or other evidential difficulties have been the main reason the majority of cases recorded have not progressed to charge or caution, which illustrates some of the challenges we can face when investigating these types of incidents.

“We would always encourage anyone who is a victim of such an offence to report it so we can offer them all necessary safeguarding and support while we progress the investigation to identify the suspect and take appropriate action.”

There were 13 offences reported to Humberside Police. One case resulted in an adult caution, while evidential difficulties prevented further action in five other cases. No convictions were recorded.

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Detective Inspector Tom Kelly said: “I understand the impact that upskirting can have on victims and I want to offer my reassurance that we take all reports of this nature seriously.

“When we receive a report of upskirting, specially trained officers gather all of the available evidence, make arrests and, where possible, put suspects before the courts.

“I would encourage anyone who has any information about someone committing an offence of upskirting to please get in touch with us so that we can investigate it.

There were also four incidents reported to South Yorkshire Police - three of which involved female victims and a fourth which was unrecorded. Again, no convictions were recorded.

DCI Emma Knight, Force Lead for Rape and Sexual Offences at South Yorkshire Police, said: “Like other police forces across the UK we welcomed the change in the law last year that made ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence under the Voyeurism Act.

“Tackling sexual abuse and sexual violence is a priority for us as an organisation and this includes the effective investigation of offences of upskirting. The changes to the legislation recognise the serious impact that this offence can have on victims and as such perpetrators can receive a two year prison sentence and also be placed on the sex offenders register.

“I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of upskirting to report any such matters to the police to allow us to take positive action against offenders. We recognise that this is an invasive and degrading practice and not simply a trivial matter and we want to ensure victims are protected and offered appropriate support.”

North Yorkshire Police did not respond to the FOI request.

Data obtained from 35 police forces across the country found there had been 153 incidents reported to them in the 182 days since the law was created.

This was up from 94 incidents among 25 constabularies with available data during 2018, the year before the ban was introduced, and up from 78 reports over the two-year period from April 2015 to April 2017.

Campaigners previously complained that the lack of a specific upskirting law meant police were unsure how to deal with allegations, and therefore many crimes went unreported.

New data shows the vast majority of incidents between April and October 2019 involved female victims, taking place in schools, shopping centres and other public places.

Separate data from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) showed that 10 men were convicted of 16 offences in 2019.
This included convicted paedophile Stuart Bulling, the first person jailed under the new law, after he was caught following teenage girls around a supermarket in Lancashire, in September.

Trevor Beasley, 51, was also jailed, for filming under women's skirts in Burgh Heath, Surrey.

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Police subsequently found 250,000 indecent images of children on his devices.

He had previously been convicted of upskirting in 2016 under the old charge of outraging public decency.

Under the new law, a conviction at the magistrates' court would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a fine.

A more serious offence, tried in the crown court, can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The Voyeurism Act also allows upskirting to be treated as a sexual offence and ensure that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders register.

Campaigner Gina Martin, who spent nearly two years fighting to create a specific upskirting law after two men who took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017 went unpunished, welcomed the statistics.

She said: "The Voyeurism Act only came into use eight months ago and the difference in charges and reporting is already up greatly.

"Among those who were charged was a convicted paedophile and a man who police subsequently found had 250,000 indecent images of children.

"Upskirting doesn't exist in a vacuum.

"Sexual assault and violence is all linked, and I'm just so happy this law is holding those who perpetrate it accountable."