MacAskill giving evidence at the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill[ANDREW COWAN]
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is considering making it a criminal offence to publish or circulate explicit videos and pictures of former lovers online without their permission.
Earlier this week, the House of Lords agreed unanimously to make revenge porn a criminal offence in England and Wales. The change to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill covers the sharing of physical and online copies, and text messages.
Victims say they often find it difficult to have pictures removed from the internet because websites where the images are hosted are based outside the UK.
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC has already said legislation is needed in Scotland to deal with people who post images or threaten to post images of others without consent.
He claimed there was a significant under-reporting of such offences, and that a new law would “send a signal to those who do this that they face jail”.
In addition to empowering more people to seek justice, creating a specific criminal offence would help overcome any archaic attitudes towards the use of revenge pornography
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill
In a letter to the Justice Secretary, Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes wrote: “The House of Lords this week unanimously agreed to amend the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to make revenge pornography a criminal offence in England and Wales. I am writing to urge the Scottish Government to follow its example.
“In addition to empowering more people to seek justice, creating a specific criminal offence would help overcome any archaic attitudes towards the use of revenge pornography as a cruel tool to distress, embarrass, manipulate or humiliate someone.”
According to information from eight police forces south of the Border which kept data on this issue, there were 149 allegations of revenge porn made in the past two and a half years. At least five cases have been prosecuted in Scotland under existing laws.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was already exploring seriously the creation of a specific new offence for posting or distributing revenge pornography. She added: “We supported the Lord Advocate when he raised this issue earlier this year and highlighted the very damaging effect this type of behaviour can have on victims.
“It is important that people, especially victims, know that the behaviour is unacceptable, which is where a new offence could help.”