A Westminster Hall debate on Misogyny as a hate crime is scheduled for Wednesday 7 March 2018 at 9.30am. The Member leading the debate is Melanie Onn MP.Jump to full report >>
The police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have adopted the following central definition of hate crime, as set out in the CPS Hate Crime Annual Report 2016-17:
“any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”
The five personal characteristics set out in the definition – race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender status – are the only centrally monitored strands of hate crime.
Criminal offences motivated by other characteristics - such as sex, age or appearance - can also be treated as hate crimes, but are not centrally monitored as such. Some police forces have developed localised recording practices for monitoring such crimes. For eample, in 2016 Nottinghamshire Police began recording misogynistic hate crime. The change, which was initially a two month experiment in July and August 2016, is still in place at Nottinghamshire Police, with the success of the trial drawing national interest from other police forces.
Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Committee in February 2017, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, National Policing Lead for Hate Crime, said that five police forces tracked misogyny-based hate crime, but that no national consensus had yet been reached.
In December 2017, ACC Mark Hamilton gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee in which he provided a further update. He said that the police are still looking nationally at the idea of recording misogyny as a hate crime, but that if the police move forward with this they will be looking for it to be supported by legislative action on enhanced sentencing.
There is no single piece of legislation criminalising hate crime in England and Wales. Instead, there are three different ways in which legislation deals specifically with hate crime:
The existing law has been developed in a piecemeal fashion over a number of years. Initially the law only focused on racially motivated hate crime. Hate crime motivated by religion was next to be targeted, followed by hate crime motivated by disability and sexual orientation and (finally) transgender status. Paragraphs 1.9-1.20 and chapter 2 of the Law Commission’s Consultation Paper No 213 Hate crime: the case for extending the existing offences set out full details of how the law has developed over time.
In its final report, the Law Commission recommended that a full-scale review of the aggravated offences and of the enhanced sentencing system could establish what characteristics need to be protected and the basis on which these characteristics should be treated as protected.
At a meeting in March 2017, the APPG on Domestic Violence looked at misogyny as a hate crime, with a particular focus on police recording practices.
There was a “clear consensus” from those present that the Nottinghamshire Police policy had been “an important step forward for tackling street harassment and abuse, and challenging wider sexism and objectification of women in society”. However, the meeting acknowledged that there were barriers to adopting the policy within police forces, “including rising demand and decreasing resources, the increasing complexity of tackling modern crime, and reputational and public relations issues”.
There was also some concern that if the policy were to be adopted nationally, it might need to be framed as “gender based hate crime” rather than misogyny because of “a view that men should be treated equally under the law”. The APPG considered that this might be problematic, as it would "fail to address misogyny as a structural problem, and could lead to widespread reporting of misandry, when in reality it is very rare indeed for men to be victims of hate crime because of their gender specifically".
In January 2017 the Fawcett Society launched a Sex Discrimination Law Review, which involved an expert panel reviewing a number of sex discrimination issues including hate crime. The Panel published its final report in January 2018, which included the following recommendations on hate crime:
During an interview on the Andrew Marr Show, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the Government would not be moving ahead with the Fawcett Society’s calls to make misogyny a hate crime at the moment, but that she would keep “a careful eye” on their proposals.
Commons Debate packs CDP-2018-0057
Authors: Sally Lipscombe; Sarah Pepin