‘Re­venge porn’ cases

10 com­plaints ev­ery week

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMIE MCKEN­ZIE

Po­lice Scot­land re­ceived more than 10 “re­venge porn” com­plaints a week in the first year of tough new leg­is­la­tion com­ing in to force – but over half of these were dropped.

In the High­lands only 10 of the 21 com­plaints (47%) re­ported to po­lice were passed to prose­cu­tors – or “de­tected” – while in the north-east divi­sion just 25 of the 66 (38%) cases were sent on.

Across Scot­land, there were 551 com­plaints filed in to­tal and 240 of those were de­tected (44%). The term “de­tected” means an ac­cused has been iden­ti­fied, cau­tioned and charged and a re­port will be sent to the procu­ra­tor fis­cal.

The Abu­sive Be­hav­iour and Sex­ual Harm (Scot­land) Act came in to ef­fect on July 3 last year and made it an of­fence to dis­close, or threaten to dis­close, in­ti­mate im­ages or videos of peo­ple with­out their con­sent. Any­one con­victed of such a crime can face up to five years in jail.

It is thought that lack of ev­i­dence, or vic­tims with­draw­ing their com­plaints to avoid em­bar­rass­ment, may be key fac­tors in the low de­tec­tion rates.

Last night, Rape Cri­sis Scot­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Sandy Brind­ley said the shar­ing of in­ti­mate im­ages with­out per­mis­sion can have an im­pact “ev­ery bit as dev­as­tat­ing as other forms of sex­ual vi­o­lence.”

She added: “It is im­por­tant that per­pe­tra­tors, and po­ten­tial per­pe­tra­tors, of this unique form of vi­o­la­tion and abuse are made aware that shar­ing, or threat­en­ing to share, im­ages of some­one with­out their per­mis­sion is a crim­i­nal of­fence which can at­tract a sig­nif­i­cant jail sen­tence.”

The lat­est de­tec­tion fig­ures were ob­tained un­der free­dom of in­for­ma­tion laws and span the pe­riod from July 3 last year to the end of June.

Face­book, What­sapp, Snapchat and In­sta­gram were among some of the most com­mon on­line plat­forms used in the north and north-east.

The lat­est pub­licly avail­able Crown Of­fice fig­ures also show that between July 3 and De­cem­ber 5 last year, in the first five months of the leg­is­la­tion com­ing in, 40 charges re­ferred on by po­lice were pros­e­cuted in Scot­land and eight re­sulted in con­vic­tions, al­though many of these cases were still on­go­ing at the time.

De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Vince Mclaugh­lin, of the High­lands and Is­lands Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion Unit, de­scribed the non-con­sen­sual shar­ing of in­ti­mate im­ages on­line as a “cruel and se­ri­ous of­fence.”

He said: “We are com­mit­ted to car­ry­ing out thor­ough and ro­bust in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Det Chief Insp Mclaugh­lin added that spe­cially trained of­fi­cers work with pub­lic and third sec­tor part­ners to of­fer re­as­sur­ance to vic­tims, al­low­ing them to tell their sto­ries.

De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Kevin Walker, of the North East Divi­sion’s unit, said: “Po­lice Scot­land is com­mit­ted to bring­ing those who behave in such a men­ac­ing and con­trol­ling man­ner to jus­tice.” He also stressed that “se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion” should be given prior to send­ing any ex­plicit im­age in the first in­stance, given the ef­fect it may have if it was made pub­lic.

Any­one who has been a vic­tim of this crime should con­tact po­lice on 101.

“Com­mit­ted to car­ry­ing out ro­bust in­ves­ti­ga­tions”

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