With the recent outpouring of sexual assault and harassment claims, more and more people are willing to speak out about their abusers. And now, police officers in England are trying to deal with the cause of the issue rather than the symptoms. They hope to reduce the number of ‘street incidents’ so that it doesn’t evolve into sexual harassment or assault. Because of this, the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom is looking to change what they consider to be a hate crime.
Now, any sort of sexist remark, wolf-whistling or cat-calling can all be construed as hate crimes.
It was just last year in East Midlands when this pilot project was implemented and due to the project’s success, it seems like this new rule will be initiated.
Police forces in the UK are working hard to determine what is considered to be a gender-based hate crime.
Police say that if anyone is being targeted because of their race, sexual orientation, or something else such as being goth, then that is considered to be a hate crime. But a gender-based hate crime is when someone is targeted specifically because of their gender.
Authorities argue that reducing (or stopping) misogynistic remarks could go a long way in reducing sexual violence overall.
While this new project has been appreciated and adored by some, others on social media have stated that remarks such as catcalling are very different from sexual assault and violence.
In this brand new scheme, people can be fined (or even jailed) for yelling or saying sexist remarks. Things such as catcalling or wolf-whistling will all be considered as a hate crimes albeit less severe than verbal abuse.
Just last year, within the first few months of the pilot project, the Nottingham Police recorded dozens of complaints from women who said they were bombarded with misogynistic remarks.
The data showed that making a sexist offence was just as common as other hate crimes. The report revealed that making a sexist offence was reported at the same rate as other hate crimes.
While wolf-whistling and catcalling can all be construed as a hate crimes under this new scheme, things such as verbal abuse, street harassment and taking pictures without consent offer a much tougher penalty.
A spokesperson from the Scotland Yard said: ‘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.’
Mark Hamilton who is the assistant chief constable said: ‘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.’
‘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. But even if a crime hasn’t been committed the debate now is similar to hate crime incidents.’
He continued: ‘we should 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.’ Early last week, the National Police Chiefs Council informed the Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee that this new project can help ‘nip the problem in the bud.’