Crackdown promised over online revenge porn videos

Kenny MacAskill: 'There are ways of tackling revenge porn'. Picture: PA

Kenny MacAskill: 'There are ways of tackling revenge porn'. Picture: PA

Share this article
0
Have your say

MEN who use sexually explicit pictures and videos to blackmail or harass partners will be targeted under a new initiative to halt the practice.

Police, prosecutors and campaigners met earlier this month to discuss the growing phenomenon of “revenge porn”.

Scottish Women’s Aid is planning an education campaign aimed at men which will highlight that videos made within a relationship are private and should remain so, even if the couple separate.

Meanwhile, Police Scotland plans to encourage more women to report men who threaten to distribute clips or post them online.

The round-table discussion, which featured Rape Crisis Scotland, White Ribbon Scotland and Victim Support Scotland, also discussed whether current laws are capable of tackling the new and developing crime. Ellie Hutchinson, prevention worker at Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “We’re still at an early stage of looking at what the law can do. Do the existing laws work and is it a case of promoting those laws better?”

She added: “The focus has to be on the perpetrator. We have to be asking what these young men – although they are not always young – what values they have about trust and compassion. What we really need to be focusing on is why these men think it’s okay to do this, and how we can hold them to account, not just legally but through education.”

Anecdotally, reports of revenge porn are increasing. Rape Crisis Scotland plans to ask its regional centres to monitor numbers so they have a better idea of what they are dealing with.

Scottish Women’s Aid is foc­used on how revenge porn is used in existing relationships, either to blackmail someone not to leave, or to harass them after they do. However, there have also been examples of strangers meeting online, particularly young people, and exchanging images or videos.

Earlier this month, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre warned that hundreds of children from the UK have been tricked into posting explicit videos of themselves. Daniel Perry, 17, from Dunfermline, took his own life in July after being tricked into thinking he was talking to an American girl online. He was then told their video conversations would be sent to friends and family if he did not hand over money.

Police want more victims to feel confident about coming forward as they believe the vast majority do not currently do so.

Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton said: “Police Scotland is working to encourage victims to report offences relating to revenge pornography.

“Since 2010, there have been just 14 reports of such cases to the police in Scotland.”

There have also been calls for the Scottish Government to consider introducing new laws if current legislation is not sufficient. Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The sharing of private sexual images by a partner on the internet may be a recent phenomenon, but women have faced this kind of exercise in power and control for years.

“I am calling on the Scottish Government to work with partners like Scottish Women’s Aid to look at ways in which current laws could be more robustly enforced. However, if it transpires that new legislation is required, then ministers must act swiftly to tackle this new and extremely disturbing form of domestic abuse.”

Justice secretary Kenny Mac-Askill, insisted that there are plenty of ways to tackle revenge porn through the courts.

“These include the common-law offences of breach of the peace or blackmail, statutory offences of threatening or abusive behaviour and stalking under the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act, and the offence of improper use of a public electronic communications network under the Communications Act,” Mr MacAskill said.

Back to the top of the page