Revenge Porn Laws Not Fit for Purpose, Says Victim Charity

revenge porn threats

The Revenge Porn Helpline, established in 2015, believes that police officers need more training in revenge porn crimes.

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Revenge porn laws are not adequate in protecting victim’s anonymity, and police need better training, a victim charity has claimed.

Sophie Mortimer from the Revenge Porn Helpline believes that victims of revenge porn should receive anonymity, and laws should be adjusted to cover threats to disseminate images.

Figures from 19 of 43 police forces in England and Wales convey that the number of alleged cases being investigated has doubled from 852 in 2015-2016 to 1,853 in 2018-2019.

However, the figures also highlight that the number of charges have fallen by 23% – from 207 to 158 during the last four years. The National Police Chiefs Council has stated that police forces take revenge porn “very seriously”.

Revenge porn entails the sharing of private or sexual images or videos of a person without their permission. The crime became an offence in England and Wales in April 2015 and similar laws have also since been implemented in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

As revenge porn is deemed a ‘communications crime’, victims are not given anonymity. Consequently, in the past year, coupled with a lack of police support, more than a third of victims did not proceed with a revenge porn case.

In October 2016, Alice Ruggles, 24, was murdered by a former boyfriend Trimaan Dhillon who also threatened to share images of her online.

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Alice’s mother, Dr Sue Hills, emphasised that threatening to distribute images should also be made part of the law. “It causes immensely serious psychological damage – it is a crime,” she said.

She also highlighted that her daughter may have sought help sooner if Dhillon had not blackmailed her with the threat of sharing images online.

Mortimer, from the Revenge Porn helpline, said: “We’d also like to see it made a sexual offence because that would guarantee anonymity for victims.” In addition, she believes that police officers need more training in revenge porn crimes.

“If the frontline services don’t understand what the law actually means then you’ve only done half the job,” she added.

A report by the University of Suffolk revealed that 95% of police officers who took part in a 2017 survey admitted that they had not had any training on revenge porn legislation.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey from the National Police Chiefs’ Council said forces “pursue all lines of inquiry and prosecute people where appropriate”.

He explained: “The College of Policing has produced a briefing and training note, which all officers involved in these types of investigations can access.”

A joint Ministry of Justice and Home Office statement stated: “When we engaged with victims and campaigners in designing the new law they accepted that the motive for this crime is almost always malicious, rather than sexual, which is why the law considers it a non-sexual offence.

“We launched and continue to support the Revenge Porn helpline, which helps victims to speak with the police and to social media companies about removing the content.”



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