The charity Victim Support has urged the Government to grant anonymity to revenge pornography victims. Lucy Hastings, director of the charity, has said: "Without anonymity a victim testifying in court faces the very real risk of their name and details being reported in the press, which could also lead to the offending images or videos being shared more widely”.
We blogged about this problem back in July. Unlike most sexual offences, the revenge pornography offence does not benefit from any specific statutory provision to allow for complainant anonymity.
The offence was inserted by the Government into the Criminal Courts and Justice Bill followings its committee stage in the House of Lords. The provision therefore received relatively little scrutiny. In the rush to enact the Bill before the dissolution of Parliament in 2015, it seems that complainant anonymity was overlooked.
As discussed previously, this problem could be solved by a simple amendment to Section 2 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. By including the revenge pornography offence within this section, once an allegation of revenge pornography had been made, nothing could be published which might be likely to lead members of the public to identify the alleged victim. In reporting the proceedings at and prior to a trial, the media would be obliged to omit anything likely to disclose the complainant’s identity, even if that information was given in open court. Under section 1(1) of the 1992 Act, the restriction would continue for the lifetime of the complainant.
Without such an amendment, complainants cannot be guaranteed anonymity and, understandably, some individuals may be deterred from making complaints or pursuing prosecutions.