On 31st January 2024 a new law was introduced that prohibited “Cyber flashing”. S66A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 now makes it an offence to send or give a photograph or film of any person’s genitals with the intention, or being reckless, as to whether alarm, distress or humiliation is caused.

The offence carries a maximum of two years imprisonment and the first person convicted of this offence is due to be sentenced on 12th March 2024.

The offence was brought in due to the rise of the receipt of unsolicited “Dick pics”. The offence is usually committed when a person sends an image via Airdrop or Bluetooth to another person’s phone, even though the recipient has not requested that image.

The law has had to be brought in due to changes and advances in technology. When the Sexual Offences Act was first drafted very few people had mobile phones that were capable of sending and receiving images. Now smart phones are ubiquitous and there has been a significant increase in the sending of such images.

What is interesting is that the offence refers specifically to genitalia, and it need not be the genitalia of the person sending the image. This means other sexual images, sent unsolicited, but including breasts, or buttocks, will not be caught by the legislation.

Anyone caught committing the offence will not only face imprisonment but will also be placed on the Sex Offender Register. It is important to note that victims of this offence will receive the same protection of lifelong anonymity as any other victim of a sexual offence.

It remains to be seen whether this new legislation will stamp down on the prolific behaviour, but it is reassuring to know that the law is keeping pace with the advances in technology.