YOUNG Wiganers are being urged to “beware before you share” during the Christmas party season over fears of a rise in revenge porn attacks.
A law firm today warned of the dangerous repercussions of taking or sharing explicit photographs or videos that could mean the New Year starts in custody.
Wigan has not escaped this modern-day scourge. It was reported back in February that young women attending a particular town centre bar were being targeted by a website that was publishing intimate images - presumably provided by malicious exes.
Last year, a Wigan man who blackmailed a young woman over sexy photographs was also found to have downloaded thousands of indecent images of children.
A court heard that Sean Jepson, 19, made the revenge porn threats after his relationship with the woman broke up. And in return for his silence he wanted his victim to buy him computer games.
And back in the summer local police reported that the number of revenge-porn investigations they were having to launch were on the rise.
Nationally, revenge porn hit the headlines when a wannbe glamour model Josie Cunningham was charged with Tweeting a picture of her former partner Andrew Goy. She was cleared after a trial.
In England and Wales 14 police forces recorded 139 revenge porn allegations in six months until April, when new legislation to tackle the crime came into force.
In the two years to September 2014 there were 149 allegations of revenge pornography, in the eight police forces who recorded it and only six incidents resulted in a police caution or charge.
Two thirds of complainants were women under the age of 30, according to a Freedom of Information request made by the Press Association earlier this year, and the suspects were mainly former partners.
There were eight female complainants to every male one.
Regional law firm Kirwans fears there could be a spate of incidents over Christmas.
Hayley Cooper, a solicitor advocate within its crime team, said: “Christmas brings a period of parties and meeting new people or often relationships come to an end, sadly.
“We are seeing more and more cases of revenge porn across the country and the issue affects women more than it does men.
“Revenge porn is high on the public agenda. We are encouraging people to ‘beware before you share’ over the Christmas party season.”
The introduction of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 included a specific offence of ‘Revenge Pornography’ in April.
It is now a criminal offence to disclose sexual photographs and films without the consent of an individual who appears in the images and with intent to cause that individual distress.
Ms Cooper added: “Prior to this specific offence being created various legislation, including the Communications Act 2003, Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the Harassment Act 2007, were in place to criminalise these behaviours.
“The new offence criminalises the sharing of private, sexual photographs or films, where what is shown would not usually be shown in public. Sexual material not only covers showing genitals but also anything that a reasonable person would consider sexual.”