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Calls to grant anonymity to victims of revenge porn

Sophie Mortimer, of the Revenge Porn hotline, called for police to be given more training on the law.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Calls have been made to grant anonymity to victims of so-called revenge porn – putting it in line with sexual offences.

The offence of disclosing private sexual images without consent became illegal in 2015 in England and Wales, and carries a maximum sentence of two years.

Figures obtained by the BBC show that while the number of cases of revenge porn being investigated by police has risen 117% between 2015/16 to 2018/19, from 852 to 1,853, the number of charges has dropped from 207 to 158 (24%) in the same period.

We'd like to see it made a sexual offence because that would guarantee anonymity for victims Sophie Mortimer

Sophie Mortimer, of the Revenge Porn hotline, called for police to be given more training on the law.

She said: “It’s all very well changing the law and making these things illegal, but if the frontline services don’t understand what the law actually means then you’ve only done half the job.

“We’d like to see it made a sexual offence because that would guarantee anonymity for victims.”

The figures were collected from 19 police forces in England and Wales, with the BBC reporting that more than a third of victims opted not to proceed with revenge porn cases in the last year.

Some cited a lack of anonymity while others said they did not feel supported, the broadcaster said.

The Ministry of Justice said the law was drafted to consider revenge porn a communications offence following discussion with victims and campaigners who “accepted that the motive for this crime is almost always malicious, rather than sexual”.

Scotland and Northern Ireland introduced legislation outlawing revenge porn in 2016.

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