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Revenge porn online advice service views more than double in a year

‘People should know that if they have been a victim of this crime they have rights,’ says Citizens Advice Scotland spokesperson

Sabrina Barr
Sunday 05 January 2020 20:51 GMT
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(iStock)

A charity has recorded a sharp increase in the number of views on its online advice service for people affected by so-called revenge porn.

Revenge porn – the act of “sharing private sexual materials with intent to cause distress” – has been illegal in England and Wales since 2015.

In July 2017, it was announced it had become a criminal offence in Scotland, with perpetrators at risk of spending up to five years in prison.

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act outlines it is a crime to share intimate images or videos, send the materials to another person, upload them to a website or threaten to do so without the consent of the featured individuals.

Edinburgh-based charity Citizens Advice Scotland, which has a page on its website dedicated to providing advice to people affected by revenge porn, said traffic to the section more than doubled within the past year.

From December 2018 to May 2019, the page garnered approximately 13,000 unique page views.

In the subsequent six months, it accumulated more than 30,000 unique page views, an increase of 130 per cent.

The online advice service recommends people affected by revenge porn save the evidence, report it to the police and seek out support.

“The past year has seen a spike in traffic to our Advice for Scotland page around intimate images being shared without people’s consent,” said Gillian Fyfe, spokesperson for Citizens Advice Scotland.

“The relevant law here is still fairly new so it’s important that people know and understand that sharing intimate images is a crime in Scotland.”

Ms Fyfe added that no matter the reason why an intimate image or video was captured or sent, “most people don’t expect or want them being shared more widely”.

“The experience can be incredible distressing, and many won’t want to speak out, but people should know that if they have been a victim of this crime they have rights, and can report it to the police,” she said.

In December, it was reported the government were to be told to introduce stricter laws to combat revenge porn and deepfake pornography.

Law lecturer Dr Aislinn O’Connell, from Royal Holloway University in London, outlined how the law as it stands “isn’t fit for purpose” and should be replaced by a single criminal offence that encompasses the taking, creating and sharing of intimate images and videos.

For advice on what to do if intimate photographs or videos of you are shared without your consent, visit the Citizens Advice Scotland advice page here.

You can contact the UK’s Revenge Porn Helpline by calling 03456 000 459, open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), or email help@revengepornhelpline.org.uk.

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