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Revenge porn laws having an impact, says DPP Alison Saunders

Published 07/08/2015

Alison Saunders said the introduction of the new law in April was helping get justice for victims
Alison Saunders said the introduction of the new law in April was helping get justice for victims

New laws aimed at tackling revenge porn are "having an impact" on stamping out the cruel craze, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has said.

Alison Saunders said the introduction of the new law in April, resulting in jail terms of up to two years, was helping get justice for victims.

Revenge porn is the sharing of sexually explicit or indecent images without the victim's consent. Before April's new law, prosecutors had to seek justice through existing copyright or harassment laws.

Speaking ahead of what the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) believes will be the sentencing of the first person to be convicted under the new revenge porn law, the DPP said: "Revenge pornography is a particularly distressing crime for the victim which is often, but not always, brought about by the vengeful actions of former partners. It is a violation of trust between two people and its purpose is to publicly humiliate.

"I am pleased that these crimes can now be prosecuted as an offence in their own right, reassuring victims that it is a recognised offence and it is being taken seriously by the authorities.

"The new offence has only been in force since April, therefore it is too early for us to be able to say what impact this is having on the number of prosecutions.

"However, anecdotally we are seeing more of these cases being brought to us by the police and it is clear that the new legislation is having an impact. I am pleased that awareness of these cases of revenge pornography is growing so victims come forward to report these nasty crimes and prosecutions are brought where we have sufficient evidence.

"Within the CPS I am ensuring that all relevant staff have the most up-to-date guidance and the benefit of learning from their colleagues, so we have circulated details of case studies we now have to help improve our expertise in using the new legislation."

Jason Asagba, 21, is due to be sentenced at Reading Magistrates' Court after he was convicted of posting, texting and emailing intimate photos without the woman's consent with intent to cause her distress under the new revenge pornography legislation. He pleaded guilty on May 16.

Last month, an investigation by the Press Association found that police are tackling the largest ever volume of revenge porn cases, with victims ranging from 11-year-olds to pensioners.

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, said: "We live in a world where images are able to be shared instantaneously and the criminal justice system needs to keep pace with that reality. I am pleased that the CPS's guidance highlights the significant impact that these offences have on their victims.

"This case (of Asagba) shows that anyone maliciously and deliberately distributing intimate pictures of people without their consent can and will be brought to justice."

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "Revenge porn is a terrible abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded.

"That is why we changed the law to make it a specific criminal offence. We are pleased that the early indications show this change is making a real impact."

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