The Government has this week announced further proposed changes to criminal law and procedure.
The taking of non-consensual photographs or video recordings of breastfeeding mothers will be made a specific offence punishable by up to two years in prison.
It covers situations where the motive is to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm.
Similar legislation introduced by the Government in 2019 that criminalised “upskirting” has led to more than 30 prosecutions since it became law.
Ministers are changing the law to “protect mums from being harassed no matter where they choose to breastfeed.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
“We are committed to doing everything we can to protect women, make them feel safer, and give them greater confidence in the justice system.
We’re giving the victims of domestic abuse longer to report the offence to the police – so abusers don’t evade justice. And we will introduce a new offence to stop people filming or taking photos of mothers breastfeeding without their consent – because no new mum should be harassed in this way.”
The Law Commission is currently conducting a broader review of the law on taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent, including breastfeeding photography. The Government will consider the recommendations of the Law Commission’s review when they are published (currently expected in spring 2022) and any further changes to criminal offences in this area that may be needed to protect victims further.
Domestic Abuse Proposals
In most cases, the offence of common assault is triable only in a magistrates’ court, and the prosecution must start proceedings no more than six months after the alleged offence. There is an exception concerning assaults on emergency workers.
The Government has signalled an intention to extend the time limit for the commencement of prosecutions where the alleged offence is committed in a domestic context.
An amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will change the time limit to six months from the date the incident is formally reported to the police – with an overall time limit of two years from the offence to bring a prosecution.
This proposed change is on the basis that:
“Domestic abuse is often reported late relative to other crimes; so this will ensure victims have enough time to seek justice and that perpetrators answer for their actions.”
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[Image credit “The British Parliament and Big Ben” by ** Maurice ** is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ]