Wolf-whistling and making comments perceived as sexist could become hate crimes in London, police have said.
The Metropolitan Police Force revealed they have been consulting with other forces about cracking down on “gender-based hate crime” after similar behaviour was criminalised in other parts of the country.
Last year, Nottinghamshire Police became the first in the UK to record “misogyny” as a hate crime, potentially criminalising complimenting, texting, and catcalling women in certain contexts.
A Scotland Yard spokesman told the Evening Standard: “We have been speaking to other forces about their experiences of the practicalities of recording gender-based hate crime and will use this, along with feedback from our partners, to inform any future changes to MPS policy.”
Hate incidents in the UK only need to be “perceived” by the alleged victim “or any other person”, and the Crown Prosecution Service recently confirmed that “no evidence” is needed for one to be reported and recorded.
Many forces even consider “dislike” and “unfriendliness” as forms of hate crime.
Fighting "hate crime" is more important than prosecuting "real crime" 🙄 https://t.co/ppPgjpNRfu
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 27, 2017
Also this week, the National Police Chiefs’ Council head of hate crime told the Women and Equalities Committee in Parliament that there is an ongoing police debate about criminalising perceived sexism.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told MPs: “Issues such as on-street behaviour that people feel should be accepted as part of the interaction of daily life actually has a detrimental and damaging impact.
“Sexual harassment of a woman or a girl at a bus stop by a male might be some things that some women feel they are just going to have to accept, that no-one’s going to do anything about it.
“The debate in policing now is moving much more to identify those issues in the same way as we would other types of incident or crime, establishing if a crime has been committed or not.”
PC Hamilton even suggested police might consider taking action against behaviour which is not criminal at all.
“[E]ven if a crime hasn’t been committed the debate now is similar to hate crime incidents,” he said.
“Should we be taking action of some variety to address the behaviour before it escalates into a crime and also most importantly to try and restore some confidence to the victim and make them feel that what happened to them is being addressed somewhere?”