Revenge porn victims must be given anonymity to prevent third of cases

Victims of revenge porn must be given anonymity, a policing chief has said, to prevent a third of revenge porn allegations being dropped.Since 2015, when it was made a crime, victims have chosen not to support charges in 2,813 of 7,806 incidents, with some citing lack of anonymity as a cause.Others have said they did not support charges because of a lack of police support.Revenge porn is “the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress”.Offenders can face up to two years in prison in England and Wales, while in Scotland it is five years.A petition to change the law has been launched by the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan.She has asked for anonymity for victims, the same as in sexual offence cases.The petition, which has received over 15,000 signatures, states: “We want the Government to close the legal loophole which means there are currently no laws to stop media outlets naming victims, including the coverage of court cases.  We believe that victims of revenge porn should have the same rights as victims of other types of sexual assault and have their identity protected by law.” Ms Mulligan told the BBC: “We think the law is fundamentally flawed. At the moment [revenge porn] is a communications offence not a sexual offence and that means victims face the likelihood of being publically named and we think that puts people off.” Some victims agree with the proposed law change.In 2015 Lauren Evans, from Hertfordshire, discovered sexual images of herself were being shared by a man she met online. She contacted Thames Valley Police with her story, but said she was made to feel responsible for what happened.”I felt like it was all my fault,” she told the BBC.”Even the police officer I told my story to said ‘I guess you’ve learnt your lesson now then’, and that shook me to my core.”I thought if the police think it’s my fault then what is the point in going on.”A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said it could not comment on individual cases but that takes allegations of revenge porn “extremely seriously”.The Ministry of Justice has said it has no plans to extend automatic anonymity to revenge porn victims, but that it keeps the law under constant review. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more