What Are The Laws Surrounding Revenge Porn In The UK?

In recent weeks, celebrity couple Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna have hit the headlines after Kardashian allegedly leaked intimate images of Chyna online following a break up.

The reality TV star is alleged to have posted the images of his former girlfriend on Instagram before later sharing them on Twitter too. Under California law, it’s illegal to post sexual images without consent and if found guilty, Kardashian could face up to six months in prison.

The sinister trend of leaking private photos as revenge is nothing new and in recent years the phenomenon has been dubbed ‘revenge porn’. The UK saw its first revenge porn conviction in 2015 when 21-year-old Jason Asagba pleaded guilty to posting explicit photos of a 20-year-old woman on social media. He was sentenced at Reading Magistrates’ Court to a six-month suspended sentence and 100 hours unpaid work. He was also given a restraining order and told to pay £345 in costs.

By September 2016, more than 200 people in England and Wales were prosecuted for sharing sexual photos or videos of another person without their consent. One defendant used Facebook to send intimate photos of a woman to her family before threatening to post more pictures online. He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Information requests from 31 of England and Wales’ 43 police forces showed that 1,160 incidents of revenge porn were reported between April and December 2015 alone. Unfortunately, no action was taken on 61% of reported crimes.

The issue is so widespread that The Revenge Porn Helpline has been created to offer victims free and confidential support. The helpline provides practical assistance in reporting and removing such content online. The team also coaches victims on how to gather evidence and approach the authorities to increase the likelihood a criminal investigation takes place.

Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 defines revenge porn as “photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public.” The law states that such images are classed as revenge porn when disclosed without the person’s permission and with intent to cause harm or distress.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice 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 that this change is making a real impact.”