After an experiment in Nottingham proved successful, police forces across the UK might make it easier for women to report harassment and misogyny
After an amazing experiment in Nottingham earlier this year that saw wolf-whistling and misogyny become ‘hate crimes’ worthy of investigation, police forces across England and Wales are now looking to implement a similar approach.
If the decision goes ahead, it means that women up and down the country will be able to report incidents such as wolf-whistling, harassment and verbal abuse – in other words, the kind of incidents that happen to most of us on several occasions over the course of our lives. (One study even revealed that over 85 per cent of women aged 18 – 24 have already experienced unwanted sexual attention.)
Misogynistic hate crimes are defined by the force as ‘incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman‘.
That includes unwanted sexual advances (such as trying to repeatedly talk to a woman who has her headphones on, ahem), unwanted physical contact, verbal abuse, physical assault, uninvited messages from mobile devices and taking photos without consent.’The number of reports we are receiving is comparable with other, more established, categories of hate crime,’ explains Dave Alton, hate crime manager for Nottingham police. ‘We have received numerous reports and have been able to provide a service to women in Nottinghamshire who perhaps wouldn’t have approached us six months ago. The reality is that all of the reports so far have required some form of police action.’
‘We know it’s a big issue that happens on a daily basis – it’s part of the everyday wallpaper of women’s lives,’ added Melanie Jeffs, manager of Nottingham Women’s Centre in an interview with the Guardian. ‘This is about raising awareness, making women feel that they don’t have to put up with it – and that’s very empowering. Already women are ringing through to the police saying: “I want this to be recorded as a misogynistic hate crime”.’
‘We’ve had women say how proud they are to be from this city, and that this makes them feel like they’re walking 10 feet taller.’