Revenge porn offenders could get no jail time for even the most serious of cases – UK

New sentencing guidelines for revenge porn could let offenders off without any prospect of jail time.

The rules, outlined by the Sentencing Council, are for courts dealing with defendants convicted of disclosing private sexual images or videos without consent.

New proposals suggest that if an offender sets out to cause the most serious harm, but the victim doesn’t suffer the intended harm, then culprits will not automatically get time behind bars.

They could be let off with community orders, even when the offender has sought to ruin the victim’s life.

Victims must prove their vulnerability in order for the offender to go to jail for revenge porn, it is understood.

It comes after stats indicated that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are four times more likely to face revenge porn.

For the worst cases where – such as sending images to a victim’s family who are very religious or to a young sibling – jail terms of up to two years could apply.

The law only came into effect for the first time in 2015, following calls by victims, their families and charities.

There have been some 200 convictions since the law was passed.

The Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, has previously promised to clamp down on such offences.

The jail time for offenders found guilty of stalking can now face up to ten years in jail, instead of five.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said: “Revenge porn is an awful abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded.

“By making it a specific offence, we sent a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated.

“It is right that our courts recognise the severity of this crime, and I welcome the Sentencing Council’s proposals.”

The new guidlines are now out for consultation, and if confirmed must be followed by courts.

Judges will only be able to flout the guidelines if it’s deemed in the best interests of justice.

The penalties for revenge porn could disproportionately effect the LGB community.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more than four times more likely to be the victims of revenge porn, according to one study.

The a survey from US-based Center for Innovative Public Health Research found that the issue had a shockingly disproportionate impact on LGB people, who were more likely to be victims.

While just four percent of the general public have been the victim of either revenge porn or threats to post it, among LGB people the number jumps to 17 percent.

The study notes: “Among internet users who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), 15% say someone has threatened to share a nude or nearly-nude photo or video of them without their permission, a far higher rate than among heterosexual internet users (2%).

“In addition, 7% of LGB respondents have had someone share a nude or nearly nude image of them, compared with 2% of heterosexual internet users.

“Taken together, 17% of LGB Americans have either had an image shared without their consent or have had someone threaten to share an image of them.”

The prevalence of hook-up apps in the gay community may be a factor in the disproportionate impact on LGB people, as well as pre-existing issues relating to ‘outing’ people who are in the closet.

Amanda Lenhart, of the Data and Society Research Institute said: “Nonconsensual pornography can have a devastating and lasting impact on victims, so it’s vital that we understand how common this is and who is affected.

“Our findings show that particular groups  -such as young adults and lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans – are not only much more likely to be victims of nonconsensual pornography, but are more likely to experience a range of online harassment and abuse.

“This includes other types of privacy violations, such as having their online or phone activity monitored, or having their passwords stolen or coerced by others.”

If you have been a victim of revenge porn and want to seek advice, call the UK helpline on 0345 6000 459.