Sharing a naked photo of your ex could lead to 14 years in jail
Posting revenge pornography online could lead to a jail term of up to 14 years, the Crown Prosecution Service has warned.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the CPS said it was not outlining new laws but providing guidance to lawyers on how to bring such cases to court.
The guidance states the issue for prosecutors should be whether the message or communication is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false, not whether the image itself is indecent or obscene.
Writing for Telegraph.co.uk, Maria Miller, the former Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities called for new legislation.
“Existing laws are simply not effective,” the Conservative MP said. “Posting revenge porn is not necessarily harassment; it’s not always grossly offensive nor indecent. But it is extreme humiliation, using sex to wreck the victim’s personal life and jeopardise employment prospects in the future.”
She added: “I welcome anything that can help victims who have suffered for too long without any protection – but nothing short of a change in the law will send a clear and unambiguous message to the perpetrators that this is a criminal offence which merits a serious criminal sanction.”
A spokesperson for the CPS said: “No one should have to suffer the hurt and humiliation of ‘revenge pornography’ – a nasty and invasive crime that appears, anecdotally at least, to have increased as social media use has gone up.
“The CPS prosecutes these cases using a range of current laws, and we have now clarified our legal guidance to set out clearly how these cases should be brought to court.
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“Due to the very personal nature of ‘revenge pornography’, prosecutors are being asked specifically to consider the impact on the victims involved.
“The new guidance also makes clear that the context of each case needs to be considered alongside current guidelines to ensure that the most appropriate legislation is used when prosecuting. The public, and indeed those intent on attacking former partners in this way, can now see clearly that this is a crime that can and will be prosecuted.”
A recent high-profile case of alleged revenge porn is that of theatre critic Mark Shenton. He claims he was sacked from his job at the Sunday Express after “embarrassing” images were made public on a gay website.
The proliferation of straight and gay dating apps in recent years means the exchange of sexually explicit images has become a routine part of the online world for many people.
Research published in August revealed almost half of young people said the phenomenon of sexting, where people send explicit pictures of themselves to others, was “part of everyday life for teenagers nowadays”
Gay rights charity Stonewall said the survey highlighted the need for compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools.