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Posting Revenge Pornography to Become a Criminal Offence in Scotland

The Scottish Government plan to introduce legislation to tackle the practice of ‘revenge pornography’ – where a former partner posts explicit images of another online without their consent.

The plans to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament will make it a criminal offence to publish explicit images of another without their consent, whether online or in hard copy.

The act of revenge pornography involves uploading, or threatening to upload, intimate pictures or videos of a former partner.

Justice spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, Alison McInnes said:

"It is important that victims don't suffer in silence and know that they have done nothing wrong. I believe that introducing specific legislation to tackle these despicable and cowardly acts will give victims confidence that such violations of their privacy are unacceptable and illegal."

Under the existing law, at least five cases have been prosecuted in connection with revenge pornography practices, however it is seen as important to create specific legislation to target the practice and support victims. Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, has stated that a specific offence will be better to deal with the “growing problem”. He said:

“We can and do prosecute this crime robustly using existing legislation. However, it is a growing problem and specific legislation would send a signal to those who do this that they face jail.

The crime of posting revenge pornography can have a devastating effect on victims, causing fear and alarm and humiliating them. Also at present, many people may not report the act as they are too embarrassed to come forward. The new legislation is also aimed at ensuring the new crime is reported.

Prior to legislation coming into place, the government is making clear that there are other laws under which such behavior can be prosecuted.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:

"The Scottish Government is already considering the creation of a specific new offence for posting or distributing revenge pornography.It should also be noted that there are existing laws that can be used to prosecute this crime."

The House of Lords agreed unanimously to make the practice a criminal offence in England and Wales earlier this month.

The offence  introduced under the criminal justice and courts bill currently going through the UK parliament will include the release of explicit images both online and in the form of printed pictures, it will cover distribution of physical copies and posting to a website or circulation by email. Pictures posted to social media sites such as Facebook,Twitter and Instagram will  also be caught as well as images or videos sent by text message.

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