B5 Consultancy submission to Law Commission on intimate image abuse
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
During May 2021 the Law Commission has been accepting submissions regarding the current law on "Taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent". The Commission proposes to introduce recommendations which will tighten the criminal law and add extra protection to victims.
The Commission is likely to recommend to the government that the requirement to prove that a perpetrator intended to cause to distress to the victim, when he published or otherwise shared intimate images without consent, be removed. This is a crucial development.
We have worked with a number of celebrities and public figures who have suffered at the hands of criminals who have published and shared intimate images and videos without consent. The intention of the perpetrators varies, and all of them have no care about whether the victim is distressed, but not all of them had causing distress as the main factor. Some were financially motivated and some sexually driven but all of them, to our mind, acted with an abuser's mindset and no concern about the huge impact on the victim.
We have issued our own submission to the Law Commission to support their current proposals but to also add additional considerations which we would like the Commission, whether now or later, to consider. Our submission comes from our experience of working with victims and also from our colleague Leigh Nicol's personal experience of being a victim of this criminal industry.
We would like the Commission to consider criminalising the industry which has been created to share and abuse victims of iCloud hacks and other leaks. An additional offence of encouraging and/or aiding and abetting the crime of sharing intimate images without consent would give prosecutors and victims more power to fight back against this evil trade. We have also asked the Commission to pay special attention to the sick practice of individuals who use hacked and leaked images to further abuse and harass victims. A common theme suffered by Leigh was men sending her the images which had been stolen alongside pictures of their own genitalia or other sexualised messages and images. We believe that this is a further, more serious, offence which should be specifically legislated against.
We understand that the government hope that the Online Safety Bill will cover the concerns we have about websites that encourage the sharing of intimate images without consent, however, legislating for this specific offence will allow authorities to take action and close down the many so-called "Fappening" sites that infect the internet.
Our submission to the Law Commission, including personal testimony from Leigh, can be read here.
The submission was produced by B5 director Matt Himsworth and Associate Director Leigh Nicol.