Thank you for contacting me about making misogyny a hate crime. I am opposed to the Government’s Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill and I voted against it at every opportunity in the House of Commons.
I very much share your concerns with this Bill, and I can assure you that I have been speaking out both locally and nationally about it and will be pressing the Government to think again as the Bill continues to pass through Parliament.
Therefore I was pleased to see (on 17 January) that the Government was defeated 14 times on measures contained in their Policing Bill in the House of Lords by Labour Peers.
I am really pleased that Baroness Newlove’s amendment was successfully voted for in the House of Lords. I fully support action on misogyny, and I wholeheartedly support this amendment. The Government now must not overturn it when it gets to the House of Commons.
We know that misogyny sits behind much harassment and intimidating behaviour that unfortunately, many women experience as a reality every day in our communities. It fuels behaviour that far too often escalates into serious offences and harm to women and girls. The amendment tabled by Baroness Newlove aims to tackle this. It sets out to update the existing law on hate crime by requiring police forces to record data on crimes motivated by hostility towards the victim’s sex or gender. It also requires the court to take into account this hostility as an aggravating factor when deciding the seriousness of cases which are not sexual or domestic offences.
As you will be aware, the campaign to recognise misogyny as an aggravating factor in the same way that we recognise hostility against a person due to disability, race or other characteristics has been running for years. I believe that now is the time to close the gap in our law and to state clearly that we do not accept the status quo and that things must change. There is much support for this reform and the Government should take this opportunity to rectify the law on this.
Even though we have come a long way, progress towards meaningful change for women is too slow. That is why I would also like to see a toughening of existing sentences for perpetrators of rape and stalking, and the creation of new specific offences for street sexual harassment.
I’m contacted on a weekly basis by constituents who are concerned about the growing rates of antisocial behaviour, violent crime and crime against women and girls in their communities. Labour will always put these priorities first.
I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government to drop these poorly thought-out proposals and vote against it at every opportunity.