A Ramsgate sex offender who took secret ‘upskirt’ photographs of two children is the first to be successfully prosecuted by Kent Police under new legislation.
George Locke, 22, of St David’s Road, committed the offences against the girls, who were both of secondary school age and unknown to him, in Canterbury city centre in April and May 2019.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of operating equipment beneath the clothing of another without their consent when he appeared before Folkestone magistrates on Wednesday (June 3), and received a three-month suspended prison sentence.
Locke will also have to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for the next seven years and must complete an 80-hour rehabilitation programme, 160 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation activity, in addition to paying £100 compensation to both of his victims.
Incidents relating to ‘upskirting’ were previously prosecuted under the offence of outraging public decency, but legislation introduced by the Government last year made it a specific sexual offence with a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
The offender in the Kent Police case was initially arrested on Saturday, April 20 when a security guard at a store in Whitefriars, Canterbury, noticed him following young girls with his mobile phone out.
Locke was later released from custody pending further enquiries but arrested again on Thursday, May 23 when he was identified as having taken a photo from beneath a girl’s skirt several days earlier, again in the Whitefriars area. It had also been established by this point that he had taken a photo of a girl without her permission on the date of his first arrest.
Detective Constable Harriet Slegg of the Canterbury Vulnerability Investigation Team said: “Upskirting is a terrible offence that can cause a victim to be humiliated, distressed and alarmed, and there is absolutely no place for it in society.
“The offender in this case targeted two children who should have been free to go shopping with their friends and family without worrying about someone like him taking secret photographs for his own sexual gratification.
“He will now be closely monitored as a registered sex offender and risks going straight to prison should he commit any further offences in the future.”
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “By taking these images for his own sickening gratification the offender in this case has helped fuel a toxic culture of harassment.
“No child should ever have to experience this horrific and intrusive practice and we hope these two girls are now receiving the help and support they need to move on with their lives.”
Children needing help and advice can contact Childline 24/7 on 0800 1111. Adults concerned about the wellbeing of a child can phone the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000.