Revenge porn: More than 200 prosecuted under new law

More than 200 people have been prosecuted under a new revenge porn law, a Crown Prosecution Service report on crimes against women shows.

Data for England and Wales also show rape, domestic abuse and sex offences account for almost a fifth of the total CPS workload, with prosecutions and convictions at record levels.

The CPS says improvements are due to extra resources and better training.

But charities say more needs to be done to encourage reporting of offences.

The CPS’s annual Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) report, which incorporates data on men and boys, has been conducted since 2007.

It became an offence to share private sexual photographs or films without the subject’s consent in England and Wales in April 2015.

So-called revenge porn often involves an ex-partner uploading sexual images of the victim to cause the victim humiliation or embarrassment.

What does the report show?

In the year 2015-16, ending in March:

  • Domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences accounted for 18.6% of the CPS’s overall workload – an increase over the past six years from just under 9%
  • 206 people were prosecuted for disclosing private sexual images without consent
  • More than 100,000 people were prosecuted for domestic abuse, with a conviction rate of more than 75%
  • The number of prosecutions for rape was the highest ever recorded (4,643) and almost 58% (2,689) of those prosecuted were convicted of rape or an alternative or lesser offence
  • Child sexual abuse convictions increased by almost 17% to 4,643
  • The number of prosecutions for other sexual offences increased by nearly 23% to 11,995 – with 9,351 people being convicted
  • Nearly 70% (9,077) of stalking and harassment prosecutions were related to domestic abuse – an increase of about 10%
  • There were five prosecutions for controlling or coercive behaviour since a new law came into force in December 2015

Social media was also identified as a “growing trend” connected to offences including revenge porn, and in cases of coercive control the CPS found defendants monitored phone messages and emails and used GPS tracking.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said changes in the way sexual offences are prosecuted have helped improve conviction rates.

She said she had doubled resources in specialist units handling rape and serious sexual offence cases, and that prosecutors received detailed training.

“Today a rape, domestic abuse, sexual offence or child abuse case is more likely to be prosecuted and convicted than ever before,” she added, but there was “still more to be done to ensure all victims receive the service they deserve.”

Revenge porn became a specific offence in Scotland in April when the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act came into effect, and was made a crime in Northern Ireland in February through the amendment of an existing law.