Cyber-Flashing Is On The Rise: What Should You Do If You’re A Victim Of It?

New data shows incidents of this form of harassment doubled in 2019.


by Laura Harman |
Updated on

New data, released this week by the British Transport Police (BTP), shows there were 66 reports of this cyber-flashing in 2019. It is a small figure but it’s a significant increase compared to the figures in 2018, when only 34 incidents were reported.

Incidents of [cyber-flashing ]( have been increasing over the last few years. The crime has been identified as the sending offensive material through airdrop, the file sharing application that is available only on iPhones In 2015, police investigated the first reported incident and since then the number of reports identifying this crime as an issue has spiked.

Campaigners suggest that those affected by the crime do not report the incident to the police, suggesting that the real number of victims of cyber-flashing is likely to be much higher than the data from the BTP displays.

Detective Inspector Ashley Cooper of the BTP has spoken about how this crime can be prevented. Cooper advised that the public review their settings on the iphone. By turning off their airdrop services, potential victims will avoid coming into contact with offensive material.

Alternatively, the iPhone also has an airdrop setting that limits airdropping images to just phone numbers that are saved in your phone. By selecting ‘contacts only’ in your iphone you can protect yourself without limiting your experience using your phone.

Detective Inspector Cooper also stated that, ‘We believe that cases of cyber-flashing, which can involve the sending of unwanted, threatening or explicit sexual communications, go largely unreported – either because victims don’t feel the incident is serious enough to report or simply because they don’t know where to turn.’

Rebecca Hitchins, Campaign Manager at End Violence Against Women Coalition, suggests that victms worry they won’t be taken seriously. ‘Despite the increase, we know that cyber-flashing is severely under reported,’ she says.‘There are many reasons for this – women may sense they won't be taken seriously by the police, they may be aware of the poor reputation we have as a country for responding to, and prosecuting sexual harassment. They may feel that it is simply not worth their time and energy, especially when women typically experience so many forms and instances of sexual harassment across their lifetime.’

Here is all the information you need to know, if you ever find yourself a victim of Cyber-flashing.

What should you do if you are a victim of cyber-flashing?

If you are a victim of cyber-flashing, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your experience is reported.

First take a screenshot of the material with your device. Although you may not want this material on your phone, this is key evidence that you can send to the police and then swiftly delete.

The British Transport Police have a phone number that the public can text when they need to report an incident. By texting 61016, you can discreetly report any crime or incident that takes place on public transport in Britain. This is not confined to just cyber-flashing. Do remember that in an emergency, you should immediately contact 999.

Is cyber-flashing illegal?

A statement from the police explains: ‘At present, there is no specific offence of “cyber-flashing” but this behaviour can potentially fall within the offences of harassment or public nuisance.’

This means that although cyber-flashing is not a specifically recognised crime, it is a recognised form of sexual harassment that can be reported.

What is being done to help prevent cyber-flashing?

In order to keep up with technological trends, Parliament plans to discuss cyber-flashing and a host of other digital-based sexual offences.

Issues such as ‘up-skirting’ are going to be discussed by the government so that more stringent laws can be put in place to combat the offences.

[Read More: Cyber-Flashing: The Creepy New Public Transport Trend We Wish We'd Never Heard Of](http://Cyber-Flashing: The Creepy New Public Transport Trend We Wish We'd Never Heard of)

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