“Revenge porn”crimes reported to Police Scotland rose sharply over the past year although the detection rate was less than 50 per cent, prompting fears the crime is not being taken seriously enough.

New figures reveal that nearly 600 allegations were recorded by police in 2018-19 of a crime which involves the distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of individuals, without their permission.

Photos and videos often used to get revenge on a partner after a break-up and revenge porn is officially classified by police as “threatening/disclosure of intimate image”.

In 2018-19 there were 596 crimes reported to Police Scotland, a sharp spike from the previous year when 411 were recorded. A detection rate of 265 – 44.5 per cent – was the lowest of all sexual crimes reported.

A new law on revenge porn called the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act was introduced to Scotland in 2017. People convicted of sharing intimate images without consent could face up to five years in prison.

The offence covers photographs or films showing people engaged in a sexual activity which would not usually be done in public, a crime that has led to young people taking their own lives.

Last week, the story emerged of 21-year-old Damilya Jossipalenya who was in her second year at university in London when she jumped to her death from a third-floor flat.

A week earlier her on-off boyfriend, Alessio Bianchi, had sent an intimate video of her to his friend.

Damilya’s father spoke publicly about the death of his daughter after an investigation by a newspaper found that the number of revenge porn offences reported to police in England and Wales had more than doubled since 2015.

The Sunday Times revealed that just one in 20 cases down south last year resulted in a suspect being charged compared with one in seven in 2015-16.

In Scotland, a victim of revenge porn issued a warning last month after a folder entitled ‘Airdrie’ was discovered on a website sharing pictures of young women from areas in the UK.

It was reported in May that a woman claimed that a police officer refused to transfer her call about revenge porn to detectives because they were “solving murders”.

[Revenge porn] has led to girls having to move school, people leaving or losing their job and in some cases, suicide. Sandy Brindley, Rape Crisis Scotland

Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland said that disclosing or threatening to disclose intimate images is a serious crime which can have a “devastating impact”.

She added: “It has led to girls having to move school, people leaving or losing their job and in some cases, suicide. It is crucial that the justice system sends a very clear message to potential perpetrators that this is a crime with serious consequences.

“It is worrying to see a detection rate of less than 50 per cent. In our experience, people reporting this crime haven’t always felt that the police are taking the crime as seriously as they would like.”

Detective Superintendent Gordon McCreadie of Police Scotland said: “Investigation into these offences is complex and dependant in many cases on the way in which perpetrators obtain and share the images as well as the ability to recover sufficient evidence to charge.‎ It can also depend very much on the technologies used by both the perpetrator and the victim.

“Police Scotland remains committed to robustly investigating these matters. We encourage victims to come forward early which will better enable us to get evidence from any devices, or provide support to them, and advise them on how best to minimise the impact.”

This story was published by The Sunday Times on 11 August 2019.

Comments

  1. I believe part of the problem here will be a lack of resources being put into the IT branches of police forces [worth a separate Ferret investigation?]….in my small community we have been waiting months for action on a perpetrator [or perpetrators] of sustained online abuse, including threats of violence against women and children. We know the police have seized data/computers but we are told that theres queue over analysis. This is unacceptable, more funds need to be made available to employ more staff or otherwise clear these backlogs.

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