28th April 2015

On 13th April 2015 parts of the Criminal Justice & Courts Act 2015 came into force making “revenge porn” a criminal offence.  A conviction can lead to a prison sentence of up to two years and a fine.

What is revenge porn?

It is the disclosure of a “private sexual photograph or film” without the consent of the person/persons shown in it.  The disclosure must be made with the intent of causing distress.

With modern technology and the internet including social networking – Twitter etc. – images can easily be posted worldwide.  The simple act of sharing sexual images with other individuals without a person’s consent however could also be an offence.

Why do people do it?

Often the images are used to try and control the victim which is a form of domestic abuse.  Vengefulness following a relationship breakdown is another common but clearly wholly unacceptable reason.

Was this not made illegal a while ago?

There have been a number of media reports in the last few months referring to this issue being made a criminal offence but it was not until 13 April 2015 that the relevant parts of the legislation finally came into force.

What if I receive an image accidentally?

Receiving such an image is not an offence but if you then shared it you could be breaking the law.

Is this law worth having?

Yes – very much.  Like it or not good quality cameras on mobile phones means the taking of sexual images has become part of the culture of sex and relationships.  Images which are shared without the victim’s consent often leaves them feeling violated and ashamed.  The effects can be devastating.  Some suffer serious psychological effects.  There are knock on effects on family life and relationships.  People have been known to commit suicide after falling victim.  Victims need protection from the law.  There is concern however that all scenarios may not be covered by the new law.  Photographs for example taken in public places such as on a beach (many women sunbathe topless on holiday) are unlikely to be covered by this new law.  In certain circumstances however voyeurism laws may offer some protection in relation to the initial taking of the image.

The effects of revenge porn can be devastating.  The law can be complicated.  The best advice is that if you allow such photographs to be taken then be very careful who you share them with.  The Ministry of Justice have launched a campaign on the issue which can be found at #notorevengeporn on Twitter.