A piece in today’s Telegraph:
Sussex, Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire leaders back proposals to flag crimes if perpetrator displays misogynistic behaviour
Three police and crime commissioners have called for misogyny to be made a hate crime to enable police to track and prosecute street abuse against women in the aftermath of the Sarah Everard case.
The three – Sussex’s Katie Bourne (Conservative), Nottinghamshire’s Paddy Tipping (Labour) and Gloucestershire’s Martin Surl (Independent) – backed proposals for crimes to be flagged if the perpetrator displays misogynistic behaviour.
It would mean they would be recorded by police as misogynistic crimes and offenders would face longer sentences because courts would be required to take it into account at magistrates hearings or crown court trials.
Ms Bourne, a board member of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), also urged Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, to introduce a new offence of sexual harassment in public – a move currently being considered by the Home Office.
Eleven police forces, a quarter of the total, have already classed misogyny as a hate crime or are considering doing so.
However, an attempt to enshrine it in law for all 43 police forces was rejected in the Lords after the Government opposed it on the grounds that it is being reviewed by the Law Commission. Ministers want to wait for the commission’s proposals before taking action.
Ms Bourne said there needed to be a “culture change” across society, with concerns about the way women were treated brought to a head by the suspected abduction and suspected murder of Ms Everard.
“This micro-aggression that women and girls experience every day is endemic,” she said. “We can change as a society. You need legislation to change this. Yes, I think misogyny should be a hate crime. But I would like to go further. I think we should have sexual harassment in public as a crime that we should adopt.”
The new offence is being backed by the feminist campaigner Nimco Ali, appointed by the Home Secretary to advise on the Government’s strategy to combat sexual violence against women and girls, which is due to be published in July.
Nottinghamshire police force was one of the first to treat misogyny as a hate crime. Mr Tipping said it had changed the “atmosphere and culture” even if there had not been that many arrests.
“Women speak really strongly and supportively about going forward. They are disappointed that more forces have not adopted it. But I suspect the events over the past few weeks will push that forward,” he added.
Mr Surl said he would not oppose it as a crime if Parliament decided to go ahead. “It needs to be carefully implemented so that it is enforceable,” he added.
It comes after peers defeated the Government by voting to tighten the law on serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators.
The Lords voted by 327 to 232 – a majority of 95 – for an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill that would create a new statutory duty to force serial offenders to be put on a national register and closely monitored like serious sex criminals.
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