Campaign to change law for revenge porn victims

Julia Mulligan
Julia Mulligan

North Yorkshire's police, fire and crime commissioner has carried out a survey with the victims of revenge porn.

Julia Mulligan says her new research suggest victims are suffering in silence, afraid and unwilling to report offences, because of a fear they will not be taken seriously and will be named and shamed.

Julia Mulligan

Julia Mulligan

She has been campaigning for a change in the law to protect those who have their privacy breaches and their most intimate moments shared online.

At the moment, the offences are classed as communication crimes rather than sexual ones – meaning anyone can name victims – across newspapers, social media and the web.

Over the summer, revenge porn victims were invited to give their views with the aim of providing more evidence for ministers showing why closing the loophole is vitally important.

This week, a report on the results is published and it finds:

Only 4% of victims who responded to the survey successful prosecuted their offender

76% of respondents did not report their crime to the police

In some cases, respondents said they were told by police that no further action because they do not classify the incident as ‘revenge’ or victims were told it was a ‘case of embarrassment rather than revenge porn’

Anonymity is a key factor in stopping victims coming forward, with 97% of respondents stating it as important

65% of all respondents did not report their crime because they specifically feel embarrassed and ashamed

90% of victims would have reported their incident to the police if a range of assurances, predominantly related to anonymity, were in place.

Julia Mulligan said: "The evidence is stark and irrefutable – the government, police and criminal justice system are collectively failing victims of revenge porn.

“They are being systematically let down across the board, not just by the legislation, but by the police and criminal justice system itself often not responding to reports of revenge porn in a consistent or supportive way. With just 4% of victims who responded to our survey achieving a successful prosecution, there is no question in my mind - the law is not fit for purpose.

“The lack of anonymity is key to victims concerns and are actively stopping them coming forward to report their crimes. At each stage of the process victims are less and less likely to proceed, in large part because they are more and more likely to be named, which brings with it stigma and shame.

“The government did absolutely the right thing in developing revenge porn legislation, but it is time revenge porn laws were reviewed alongside issues such as up-skirting and ‘fake porn’. New laws covering all types of Image Based Sexual Abuse must be enacted bringing sexual offence legislation into the 21st century, as well as extend automatic anonymity to these victims of very serious and life-affecting crimes.”