Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Voyeurism as harassment

There's an case reported in today's Irish Independent about a man convicted of hiding a camera in the shower of a women's locker room. In the absence of a voyeurism offence in Irish law he was charged with harassment contrary to s.10 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. This isn't the first of these cases and a practice has developed of using the 1997 Act in these circumstances. At first glance this might seem to be a good fit - the definition of harassment does after all cover situations where a person by "watching" another person thereby "seriously interferes with the other's peace and privacy". However, it seems to me that s.10 isn't a substitute for a dedicated voyeurism crime along the lines of the English offence. In particular, the section is aimed at overt harassment and requires that the harassment be carried out "persistently". Once-off incidents - including once-off cases of voyeurism - wouldn't be covered on this basis.

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