UK: Campaigners call for anonymity in revenge porn cases and better police training

Calls have been made to give victims of revenge porn anonymity when they go to report their case. Campaigners have also suggested that just being threatened with revenge porn should also be a crime. In England and Wales, sharing private or sexual images of a person without consent has been a crime since April 2015, similar laws were introduced later in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

As it stands now, those who come forward to police to report a crime are not given anonymity because it’s categorised as a communications crime. Sophie Mortimer from the Revenge Porn helpline has said that revenge porn cases should be classified as sexual offences so that anonymity can be given to victims.

As smartphones have become more widespread in society, the number of revenge porn cases has increased dramatically. Figures from 19 police forces in England and Wales reveal that the number of cases being investigated had jumped from 852 in 2015-16 to 1,853 in 2018-19. In the same timeframe, the police forces that were asked for data revealed that the number of people charged under revenge porn laws had decreased by 23% from 207 to 158. Campaigners say that police need more training on the issue.

Research by the University of Suffolk suggests that just 5% of police officers asked were properly informed on revenge porn laws. Speaking to the BBC, Mortimer said:

“It's all very well changing the law and making these things illegal, but if the frontline services don't understand what the law actually means then you've only done half the job.”

The legislation around revenge porn is continually evolving around the world as lawmakers come to terms with what can be done with technology. Proposals for changes to these laws such as the ones outlined above will likely become more frequent in order to better address the issue.

Source: BBC News

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