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18 Mar, 2021 14:25

UK police to treat misogynistic attacks as hate crimes on ‘experimental basis’ following murder of Sarah Everard

UK police to treat misogynistic attacks as hate crimes on ‘experimental basis’ following murder of Sarah Everard

Police in the UK will soon begin treating misogyny as a hate crime on an “experimental basis”, following the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard, in an effort to provide data on violence against women and girls.

After weeks of activist lobbying, the UK government will ask police to treat misogynistic attacks as hate crimes in the same way that violence motivated by a person’s religion, race, or sexual orientation is considered.

“On an experimental basis, we will ask police forces to record and identify any crimes of violence against the person, including stalking and harassment and sexual offences, where the victim perceives it to have been motivated by a hostility based on their sex,” Home Office Minister Baroness Susan Williams said on Wednesday.

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Williams said the government would begin consultations with the National Police Chiefs Council and forces “shortly”, with the goal of starting data collection in the autumn. She said the data would “help us find solutions” to the problem of violence against women. She also stressed that it would be necessary “to ensure the law itself is coherent”.

Though many women, activists, and politicians from most major parties celebrated the news, calling it a “huge victory”, “good news”, and “an important symbolic” moment, others opposed the idea. Some warned that it could be dangerous in practice, and that it would be unlikely to deter criminals who target women.

"This is going to be an absolute disaster,"reacted Free Speech Union Deputy Research Director Emma Webb. Others expressed concern that accusations of misogyny would be "weaponized."

Conservative commentator Paul Joseph Watson protested that women in the UK still “can’t legally defend themselves with pepper spray”, while one woman claimed men are “going to be afraid to even glance at a woman, the way things are going.”

Some police forces across the UK, including Nottinghamshire and North Yorkshire, already have their own policies that recognise misogyny as a hate crime.

The remains of 33-year-old Everard were found in Kent last week following a highly publicised investigation into her disappearance. She was abducted while walking home along a London street and a Metropolitan Police officer was later arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder.

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