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First Conviction For “Cyber-Flashing” Offences

Nicholas Hawkes was convicted on Monday of cyber-flashing after pleading guilty to two counts of “sending a photograph of film of his genitals to cause alarm or distress or humiliation”. He was also charged with breaching a pre-existing sexual-harm prevention order. This is the first conviction of its kind.

In this instance, Hawkes had sent unsolicited, explicit, pictures to a 15 year old girl and a woman earlier in February 2024. It is understood that Hawkes will be sentenced on 11 March.

Following Hawkes’ conviction, Detective Chief Inspector James Gray stated:

“Whether virtually or physically, this is an intrusive crime which is extremely distressing for victims. Cyber-flashing and revenge porn are relatively new sexual offences and victims are entitled to lifelong anonymity under the Sexual Offences Act.

“Anyone out there who thinks it’s acceptable to send these unsolicited photos, it’s not and you are committing a criminal offence.”

As part of the Online Safety Act, cyber-flashing became an offence on 31 January this year. Under the Sexual Offences Act and as stated by DCI Gray, victims of cyber flashing will also receive lifelong anonymity – at the point of making a report to the police.

The issue of cyber-flashing is not a new one and disproportionately affects females with previous YouGov data published in 2018 indicating that 4 in 10 women (aged 18-30) have been sent unsolicited, sexual photographs. Other research has indicated that this figure could in fact be even higher amongst young women and girls, with 76% of girls aged 12-18 having been sent unwanted explicit images of boys or men.

This recent conviction, and the recognition of “cyber-flashing” as a criminal offence under the Online Safety Act, sends an important message to individuals who have or are considering sending unsolicited, explicit images: that this behaviour will not be tolerated, has no place in our society and risks being prosecuted and convicted of a sexual offence. One would hope that perpetrators will be deterred from committing further offences and that those who are subjected to unwanted explicit images, will feel empowered to come forward and report to the police.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse or assault and would like to have a free, confidential, initial discussion about your options, then Hodge Jones & Allen can help you.

Olivia Coffey, a senior associate in the Civil Liberties & Human Rights team, has many years’ experience in acting for victims of recent and non-recent abuse. She can be contacted directly by emailing or by calling 0808 296 7694.


Support and advice in relation to cyber-flashing is also available from

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