Taking a photo under a person’s clothes without their consent could result in two years in jail, as upskirting is set to become a specific criminal offence.
The Ministry of Justice has said it will back the ban which will form part of the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill, which is expected to pass through the Commons on Friday.
Upskirting victim Gina Martin, 26, who faced rape threats and abuse after launching her campaign to make it a criminal offence, said: “This is obviously great news, and it’s thanks to everyone who’s listened to us along the way.
“I want to hug every woman who has got in touch with me to say it’s happened to them, to say that now – hopefully – we can get access to justice for all victims because the politicians listened.
“There’s still a way to go, but it looks now like it will go through without too much of a hitch.”
The bill, proposed by Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem MP for Bath, has received mass cross-party support.
Following the justice department’s public backing, the bill looks set to sail through the Commons and the Lord and to gain the royal assent needed to turn it into law.
Justice minister Lucy Frazer said: “This behaviour is a hideous invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed.
“By making upskirting a specific offence, we are sending a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, and that perpetrators will be properly punished.
Ms Martin, a freelance writer living in London, campaigned for the ban after two men took a picture up her skirt while at a festival in 2017.
She spotted one of the men sharing the image on his mobile in front of her. Despite snatching the phone and presenting it to police, the case was closed four days later.
Currently victims in England and Wales are forced to seek prosecution through other legal avenues, such as outraging public decency or harassment.
A specific law against upskirting already exists in Scotland.
The new law would bring the punishment for upskirting in line with other existing voyeurism offences, and will see offenders face a maximum of two years in prison.
A justice ministry spokesman said: “The Government will now work with Ms Hobhouse and others to bring these measures through, with ministers planning to ensure crucial amendments are made to the bill – the most notable of these amendments includes placing the most serious offenders on the sex offenders’ register.”