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Voyeurism; a guide from our sexual offence solicitor
26 Jan 2022

An issue that has made the headlines in recent years due to the rise in reports is that of voyeurism.

Once something that was considered relatively minor in the category of sexual offences, there has been a push for the government and police from women’s groups to take voyeurism and associated acts (such as upskirting) more seriously, leading to harsher sentences and more trials revolving around these damaging acts.

At ABV Solicitors, our sexual offence solicitor has defended many people who have been accused and charged with voyeurism and know this sensitive area of the law very well. If you have been accused of voyeurism or an associated act, please feel free to call our team for a judgement-free consultation today.

In this article, our sexual offence solicitor explores voyeurism law in the UK, allowing you to make sense of this offence if you have been accused of it.

Voyeurism definition

According to our sexual offence solicitor, voyeurism is defined as an illegal or unknown viewing or recording of another person while they conduct private activities, with the intent of sexual gratification.

It is important to consider that while such activity has long been associated with a ‘peeping Tom,’ perpetrators of voyeurism can be male or female.

As this act can encompass sexual elements (such as if the person being photographed is nude), privacy laws and in some cases underage laws, it can lead to many different charges being levied against you should you be accused of it.

Types of voyeurism

As technology has advanced, so has the law surrounding acts of voyeurism. For instance, many people own mobile phones that have cameras built into them, leading to an increase in incidents of upskirting or other voyeuristic offences.

The use of cameras on phones or hidden cameras in places such as bedrooms, bathrooms, changing rooms and shower rooms are all considered to be a type of voyeurism in the UK. If these videos or photographs are shared online, then there may also be a charge of invasion of privacy as the impact on the victim can be more devastating.

Privacy and the law

Of course, such areas of ascertaining the will of the victim can be questioned and for an act of voyeurism to be punished, the court must be satisfied that the victim intended for what they were doing to be kept private.

To look at this, it will need to be proven that the victim was somewhere private, such as at home, in an office, a closed-off changing room or a toilet with a locked door, all of which are considered to be private areas.


The sentencing for all kinds of voyeurism in the UK is a maximum of 2 years prison time, a fine and being placed on the sexual offenders’ register, irrespective of the age of the victim.

Proving voyeurism and limitations

If you are accused of committing a voyeuristic act before April 2019, you cannot be taken to court as this law is not retrospective.

It is also vital that the person accused of committing voyeurism believed that they did not have the consent or permission of the person they filmed or took photographs of, which would be easier to prove if there was no prior contact.

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