New powers to tackle revenge porn in Scotland

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

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NEW powers which will criminalise those who share intimate images of ex-partners without their consent have been introduced by the Scottish Government.

Under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill, a specific offence will be created for those engaging in so-called revenge porn.

This crime is a form of insidious abuse designed to inflict humiliation and suffering on its victims who are predominately women

Frank Mulholland

The legislation will also improve access to justice for victims of domestic abuse by strengthening powers for the police, prosecutors and courts, the government said.

Under the proposals, judges will be required to give juries specific directions when dealing with sexual offence cases.

The directions are designed to improve juries’ understanding of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

A new statutory domestic abuse aggravator will also be introduced to ensure courts take domestic abuse into account when sentencing an offender.

Earlier this year, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland called for jail sentences of up to five years for those who maliciously share intimate images or videos of former partners on the internet.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Mulholland said: “I welcome the publication of this bill, particularly the measures to deal with the sharing of intimate images without consent. This crime is a form of insidious abuse designed to inflict humiliation and suffering on its victims who are predominately women.

“It results in significant distress to victims and in extreme cases has resulted in people taking their own lives. I called for a new law to cover this crime because we need to send a strong message to victims not to be embarrassed to come forward and report this offence.”

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “The creation of a new offence for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images means victims of this controlling and humiliating behaviour should be given greater protection under the law.

“We know that the threat or the distribution of so-called revenge porn can be used to humiliate and control the victim. It is a form and tactic of domestic abuse and must be understood in the wider context of gendered abuse.

“We hope that a new offence will give greater clarity to police and prosecutors and make it easier for perpetrators to be held to account for their abusive actions.”

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