Ben Hayward March 18th
2021

For the first time ever, the entire UK police will begin to record misogyny as a hate crime, a home affairs minister has announced.

The historic change will come into place from autumn 2021 and is already being welcomed by campaigners who have been pushing the government to implement stronger protections for women.

The move means that all crimes ‘motivated’ by misogyny must be recorded by police after the government bowed to pressure from the House of Lords to toughen the laws.

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Announcing the decision, Baronness Susan Williams, a minister for Home Affairs, said all police forces will be asked to record and identify any crimes ‘including stalking and harassment and sexual offences’, where the victim perceives it to have been motivated by misogyny.

The change is being implemented on an experimental basis for now before a long-term decision is made.

Baronness Williams said: “Once we have considered the Law Commission’s recommendations, we will shortly begin the consultation with the National Police Chiefs Council and forces on this, with a view to commencing the experimental collection of data from this autumn.”

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Labour MP Stella Creasy, who has long led calls for a change in the law and secured the commission’s review in 2018, has welcomed the government’s move.

Speaking to BBC News, Ms Creasy said: “You will have heard over the last four or five days an outpouring of stories from women about the abuse, harassment and violence they face. Most of it doesn’t get reported as they don’t believe it is going to be taken seriously.

“In the police forces where they are already doing this, not only has it helped with detecting crime, it has also helped with confidence in the police and changing the culture in the police about how they deal with violence against women.”

The announcement comes amid the continuing shock and anger at the death of Sarah Everard and the controversial policing of a vigil in her memory after police were seen forcibly removing women who had gathered to pay their respects. 

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Crimes such as assault, harassment or criminal damage are already considered as hate crimes in cases where a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity is involved, and are treated more seriously by the courts.

Non-aligned peer Baroness Kennedy, who had urged the government to ‘help ensure that all women everywhere can enjoy the same freedoms as men, when it comes to being able to go where we want and do what we want, without fear’ said: “Since Sarah’s tragic murder came to the public attention, women everywhere have shared their stories of harassment, abuse, and violence at home and on the streets, and their frustration that all too frequently these crimes are not treated with the seriousness they deserve.”

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