New guidelines for ‘revenge porn’ crimes

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People found guilty of repeatedly uploading “revenge porn” will face the toughest punishments when new sentencing guidelines come into force.

It is the first time the Sentencing Council for England and Wales has given instructions to courts on dealing with those who humiliate others by uploading private sexual images and videos.

The guidelines – published on Thursday – will come into force on 1 October.

They also include guidelines for stalking and harassment cases.

The offence of disclosing private sexual images without consent – known as “revenge porn” – was introduced in 2015 and carries a maximum sentence of two years.

In 2016/17, there were 465 prosecutions for the offence in England and Wales.

The new guidelines stress that those who repeatedly post explicit material after it has already been taken offline are likely to receive the harshest sentences, after a consultation showed a trend of some offenders doing this.

Those who set up fake social media accounts to embarrass their targets will also face stronger punishments, as they show “significant planning” has gone into the offence, says the council.

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Media captionRevenge porn victim: ‘I felt like I had been raped’

The guidelines cover a range of “intimidatory” offences, including stalking and harassment.

In these cases, tougher sentences are recommended by the council if there are aggravating factors, such as abusing a position of trust, sending grossly violent material to the victim or impacting others, such as children.

The guidelines also take into account the crime of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship – which can see offenders facing up to five years in jail.

This was introduced as an offence in December 2015 to tackle repeated domestic abuse, such as controlling victims over social media, spying on them online, stopping them from socialising or stopping their access to money.

The guidelines say that behaviour that results in debt or homelessness will be a possible aggravating factor, meaning a stronger sentence.

‘Deeply traumatising’

Sentencing Council member Judge Rosa Dean said: “Our guidelines recognise and reflect the very intimate, personal and intrusive nature of these offences, which can have devastating, often long-term, impacts on victims and their families.

“They will provide courts with comprehensive guidance that will help ensure sentences reflect the seriousness of these offences.”

Justice Minister Rory Stewart said: “These crimes can have a devastating and deeply traumatising effect on victims.

“These new guidelines will ensure that our courts recognise the serious harm caused to victims, and that perpetrators are properly punished.”



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