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Criminalising cyberflashing: options for law reform

McGlynn, Clare; Johnson, Kelly

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In this article, we examine the phenomenon of cyberflashing, outlining its prevalence, harms, and victim-survivors’ experiences. We then consider the extent to which English criminal law currently applies to this form of sexual abuse. We argue that although cyberflashing can be prosecuted in England and Wales, this is only in very limited circumstances; the existing law is confusing, piecemeal, has significant omissions, and consequently prosecutions are extremely unlikely. As such, the current criminal law in England and Wales is failing victim-survivors of cyberflashing. Due to its prevalence, its harmful impacts and similarities with other criminalised forms of sexual violence, comprehensive law reform, which appropriately addresses cyberflashing as a sexual offence, is now critical. Accordingly, we examine legislation in other jurisdictions where criminal laws targeting cyberflashing have been adopted, and provide recommendations for law reform: specifically, we recommend the development of a new criminal offence that purposely targets cyberflashing in all its forms.


McGlynn, C., & Johnson, K. (2021). Criminalising cyberflashing: options for law reform. Journal of Criminal Law, 85(3), 171-188.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 19, 2020
Online Publication Date Nov 15, 2020
Publication Date Jun 1, 2021
Deposit Date Oct 20, 2020
Publicly Available Date Nov 19, 2020
Journal Journal of Criminal Law
Print ISSN 0022-0183
Electronic ISSN 1740-5580
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 85
Issue 3
Pages 171-188


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (237 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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