I support the campaign to make public sexual harassment a specific criminal offence. I believe that this new law is vital to helping make meaningful change in the everyday experiences of women and girls.
However, when I wrote to the Home Secretary last year, the response that I received from Victoria Atkins, the Minister for Safeguarding, made it clear that the Government did not recognise and support the need for a specific public sexual harassment law.
At the time, one of the Government’s main objections was that it was waiting for the outcome of the Law Commission’s review into Hate Crime.
The Commission published its final report on 7 December 2021, and one of its recommendations was for: ‘A government review of the need for a specific offence to tackle public sexual harassment, which would likely be more effective than adding sex or gender to hate crime laws.’
In March, the Government announced that ‘by the summer recess’ it would launch a public consultation on ‘whether there should be a new offence of public sexual harassment’. I welcome this consultation and am sure that the public will be clear in their support for public sexual harassment to be made a criminal offence.
I can assure you that I will follow developments on this consultation closely, to ensure that the Government does meet its deadline for launching it and that it takes onboard the views expressed by the public.