Police to record hate crimes motivated by misogyny

Reform welcomed by campaigners

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Thursday 18 March 2021 00:39
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Boris: 'Something must be done about everyday sexism'

Police are to record hate crimes which have been motivated by misogyny after ministers announced a concession to campaigners on women’s safety.

Forces will be asked to identify where a victim believes the crime has been prompted by “hostility based on their sex”.

Among the crimes included will be stalking and sexual offences.

The move was announced just hours after prime minister Boris Johnson called for a change in cultural attitudes towards women’s safety.

A policeman has been charged with the murder of Sarah Everard.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said that the change would be made initially on an “experimental” basis.

Data collection was crucial to understanding hate crime and the ways to tackle it, she said.

A long-term decision will be made after ministers have seen a review into hate crime by the Law Commission.

The change will apply to police forces in England and Wales.

The move came after a call by Labour’s Baroness Kennedy of Cradley, who warned of an “epidemic of violence” against women and girls.

Gathering evidence about the prevalence of hostility towards women and girls was crucial to recognising connections, according to Lady Kennedy.

Speaking as the Lords considered amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill, Lady Kennedy added: “If we are not recording crime targeted at women, how can we effectively address violence against women and girls and the police’s response to it?”

Labour MP Stella Creasy, who has led demands for a change in the law, said:  “I’m delighted that the government has listened to this cross-party and grassroots campaign to make misogyny a hate crime and is now taking the first steps towards making it happen.

“Recording where crimes are motivated by hatred of women will help us better understand the scale of the problem and so be better able to prevent these crimes – it should give all women confidence that if they come forward to report crimes they will be taken seriously, too.

“Now we want the government to implement the outcome of the Law Commission review in the sentencing bill so that our courts start to take misogyny and the crimes it drives seriously, too.”

The Fawcett Society, a gender equality charity which had campaigned for the move, said it was “delighted that this government has accepted that misogyny should be treated as a hate crime”.

Chief executive Felicia Willow added: “Fawcett’s campaign showed there was overwhelming public support for this.

“It’s essential that women have the confidence to report crimes and that they are taken seriously when they do.

“This is a major step forward in changing how we understand, address and prevent violence against women - and one that we hope will help change attitudes towards women.”

Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs said: “I strongly welcome the government’s plans to ask police forces to collect data on whether violent crimes are committed on the basis of someone’s sex or gender.

“This is a vital step forward in helping to ensure that we have a more complete picture of the extensive nature of violence against women and girls.”

Earlier, the prime minister told MPs that Britain had to, “address the fundamental issue of the casual, everyday sexism and apathy that fails to address the concerns of women”.

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