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Drive to stamp out 'revenge porn' offences

Published: 2 Jan 2017 00:01
Part of:
Law and order

New law to stop people disclosing intimate images without permission.

With the new year now underway, it is just three months until a landmark law comes in to force in Scotland, making so-called ‘revenge porn’ disclosures a criminal offence.

The new law under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act will mean that, from 1 April, being convicted of the offence of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate photo or video will carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

The offence will cover situations where someone shares either filmed and still images of another person in an intimate situation. This includes images taken in private where someone is nude or clothed only in underwear or showing a person engaged in a sexual act.

The specific new law is being introduced to address a growing problem – as easy access to devices like smart phones mean pictures and videos taken with the expectation of privacy can now far more easily be shared publicly online through, for example, social media.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“We will not tolerate domestic abuse and harassment in a progressive and modern Scotland, which is why we have taken these measures to create this new criminal offence.

“Recklessly disclosing private and intimate images taken when privacy is expected can be extremely cruel and degrading for victims, as well as causing fear and alarm. It may also be symptomatic of highly abusive and manipulative behaviour towards an ex-partner.

“This new offence, which comes into force very soon, sends out a strong warning to anyone considering sharing such images. This move reflects technological changes and acknowledges the distress inflicted by this serious crime. .

“We know legislation alone is not enough to tackle abusive behaviour and sexual violence. That is why we are taking forward a whole range of work in our drive to eliminate it in all its forms from Scottish society.”

Background

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland ) Act is intended to improve how the justice system responds to abusive behaviour, including domestic abuse and sexual harm, helping to improve public safety by ensuring that perpetrators are appropriately held to account for their conduct.

The Act was passed by Parliament in March 2016 and followed an consultation in 2015 - Equally Safe - Reforming the criminal law to address domestic abuse and sexual offences -which sought views on issues relating to how the criminal law and criminal justice system addresses domestic abuse and sexual offences.   An analysis of responses to the consultation was published earlier this year.