‘Public sexual harassment’ could be made new criminal offence

But Law Commission reportedly set to reject calls to make misogyny a hate crime

Emily Atkinson
Saturday 04 December 2021 00:03
<p>Floral tributes left at Clapham Common bandstand for Sarah Everard </p>

Floral tributes left at Clapham Common bandstand for Sarah Everard

Public sexual harassment could become a criminal offence under new plans drawn up in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard, according to reports.

The proposals are set to be announced next week, according to The Daily Telegraph, after a review commissioned by the government in an effort to tackle misogyny and prevent men’s behaviour escalating towards sexual offences and murder.

But Whitehall source told the newspaper that the Law Commission would reject calls to make misogyny a hate crime.

They said: “The Law Commission is not going to class misogyny as a hate crime because it would be ineffective and, in some cases, counterproductive.

“But it will call for a public sexual harassment offence, which doesn’t currently exist.

“It thinks this fits with other work the government is doing on criminalising intimate image abuse and will be more productive and better in protecting women.”

It comes after senior police officers backed making misogyny a hate crime last month.

Calls for the change have been growing since Everard’s murder by police officer Wayne Couzens sparked scrutiny of “epidemic” levels of violence against women and girls.

But Boris Johnson, the prime minister, had refused to back the move in October, saying officers should “prosecute people for crimes that we have on the statute book”.

“If you simply widen the scope of what you ask the police to do you’ll just increase the problem,” he said.

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