11:19, September 02 64 0 theguardian.com

2018-09-02 11:19:06
MPs to decide whether to make misogyny a hate crime

MPs will vote this week on whether to make misogyny a hate crime for the first time, as the campaign to compel police forces across the UK to recognise street harassment of women as a hate crime gathers momentum.

The Labour MP Stella Creasy has put forward an amendment to the upskirting bill – due to be debated in the Commons this Wednesday – that would add misogyny as an aggravating factor in England and Wales. This would enable courts to consider it when sentencing an offender and require police forces to record it.

Creasy hopes this will be the first step towards recognising misogyny as a hate crime, just as offences motivated by hostility based on race, religion, trans identity, sexual orientation or disability already are.

The Guardian understands that the Law Commission, which has called for a fundamental review of all hate crime legislation, supports the spirit of Creasy’s amendment.

Creasy said: “Upskirting is a classic example of a crime in which misogyny is motivating the offence. We protect women in the workplace from discrimination on grounds of their sex, but not in the courtroom – with upskirting, street harassment, sexually based violence and abuse a part of life for so many it’s time to learn from where misogyny has been treated as a form of hate crime and end this gap.”

In July, research revealed overwhelming public support for the policy after a two-year pilot scheme by Nottinghamshire police, which became the first force in the UK to record public harassment of women – such as groping, using explicit language, or taking unwanted photographs – as well as more serious offences such as assault as a misogyny hate crime.

Researchers from Nottingham and Nottingham Trent universities found harassment of women and girls in public spaces remained endemic, with nine out of 10 (93.7%) respondents saying they had either experienced or witnessed it.

Three other police forces – North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, and Avon and Somerset – have introduced similar schemes and on Monday Unmesh Desai, the vice-chair of the Greater London authority’s police and crime committee, will launch a pledge to lobby the Metropolitan police to record gender-based hate crime.

Desai said the Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, had previously expressed scepticism about the idea, but he added: “The Met is the biggest force in the country and has a responsibility to look at this very seriously.”

A spokesperson for the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said City Hall was reviewing and analysing the results of the Nottingham pilot “to help inform the best ways to keep women and girls in London safe”.

The charity Citizens UK, which is leading the campaign for a national roll-out of the policy, recently met Greater Manchester police, which is now “actively considering” the policy. The Tyne & Wear branch of the charity is working with local police to combat misogynist and Islamophobic abuse of women on public transport.

In Scotland, the Holyrood government will shortly launch a consultation on the reform of all aspects of hate crime legislation, after an independent report recommended including gender, as well as age, as a hate crime in law.

Although the National Police Chiefs’ Council rejected a proposal to extend the policy nationwide in July, it has set up a working group to examine the issue.

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