I firmly believe that there is a need for a long overdue change in the law, so that misogynistic acts are treated as the serious hate crimes that they are.
It is very concerning that, according to the Crime Survey of England and Wales, there were 67,000 gender hate incidents in 2018, with 57,000 of these targeted at women. The scale of misogyny in our society must no longer be tolerated.
Several police forces have started to record misogyny as a hate crime, which is enabling valuable data to be collected. Whilst I am pleased to see these local initiatives, I believe that all police forces should be required to record this information. This would be a step forward as it would give us a better understanding of the forms of violence and abuse that women experience.
The Law Commission is currently undertaking a review into hate crime, looking at how to make current legislation more effective and to consider if there should be additional protected characteristics. I welcome the fact that it has proposed that sex or gender should be added to the protected characteristics for the first time.
Amendment 87B was tabled to the Domestic Abuse Bill during its passage through the House of Lords. This amendment would have required all police forces to collect information on the number of crimes motivated by hostility or prejudice towards people of a particular sex or gender.
However, this amendment was withdrawn after the Government announced that, on an experimental basis, it will ask police forces to identify and record any crimes of violence against the person, including stalking and harassment, as well as sexual offences, where the victim perceives it to have been motivated by hostility based on their sex. It is aiming for the experimental collection of data to begin this autumn.
I welcome this announcement, as I believe it is a step in the right direction towards ending misogyny.
The Government also said it is waiting for the outcome of the Law Commission’s review before making long-term decisions on changes to police recording practices in this area. The Law Commission is aiming to publish its final report this year, and I assure you I will monitor developments on this closely.