At least a third of upskirting offenders are also committing other serious sexual crimes, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the principal prosecution authority in England and Wales.
A total of 46 men and a teenage boy were prosecuted for 128 offences under the Voyeurism (Offences) Act between April 1 2020 and June 30 2021.
The CPS said analysis showed 15 of the men were also charged with other sexual crimes at the same time – including child abuse, sexual assault, extreme pornography and other voyeurism offences.
Upskirting prosecutions have more than doubled in the second year since the laws came into force. In the previous 12-month period, after the legislation was introduced on April 12 2019, there were 16 prosecutions for 47 offences.
Shops, particularly supermarkets, “remain by far the most common location for upskirting to take place”, the CPS said, accounting for 36% of offences since last spring.
The majority of other areas where crimes took place included in streets and parks, on public transport, in train and bus stations or at bus stops, and on escalators on the London Underground.
There were 16 offences where victims were identified as teenage girls, including pupils in school uniforms.
The CPS report said: “The evidence also shows some men are taking extensive measures to capture images and videos of women without their consent, hiding cameras in shoes or shopping baskets and using photography apps.”
Campaigner Gina Martin said upskirting was part of a “wider continuum of violence” and can often be “gateway behaviour to more violent forms of assault, or a habitual assault that runs parallel”, adding: “The Voyeurism Act has shown us that every report is critical because you are holding an offender to account, but in many cases a repeat and violent offender, too.”
Siobhan Blake, who leads CPS work on sexual offence prosecutions, said: “Despite strict social distancing guidelines over past 18 months, it seems offenders have not been deterred from violating women’s privacy in a most degrading manner as they go about their daily lives.
“These are disturbing patterns of behaviour.”
She urged victims and witnesses to report upskirting to the police, adding: “Not only will the CPS treat your complaint seriously, you may also be helping to protect the public from dangerous sexual predators.”
The data to June 2021 covers completed prosecutions – where a case has ended in a conviction or has been withdrawn – and does not include cases with trials or sentencing outstanding. The CPS said there are likely to be “many more live prosecutions” in the system. – dpa