Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner David Keane is calling on the government to protect women and older people within hate crime law.
Existing hate crime laws do not recognise gender or age as a protected characteristic but the commissioner says there is clear evidence for misogyny and elder abuse to be recognised in law.
He has responded to the Law Commission’s hate crime consultation to set out his views.
He said: “We know that gender discrimination disproportionately affects women. There is evidence of this in the workplace, online and in everyday life. There is also evidence of misogyny leading to other serious crimes such as stalking or harassment.
“Research by Citizens UK (published in September 2020) revealed that women or three times more likely to experience both threats and acts of sexual violence and assault than men and that 38% of women reporting hate crime explicitly linked this to gender.
“Some police forces are already recording misogyny as a hate crime so it makes sense that it’s enshrined in law. In Cheshire, I have asked chief constable Darren Martland to explore issues linked to domestic and sexual abuse and hate crime and to prioritise a review of recording of misogyny as a hate crime locally as an interim measure before any potential legislative changes as a result of this consultation.
“I believe that if misogyny was set out in law as a hate crime, this would give women the confidence and faith in reporting harassment or any other behaviour that leaves them feeling intimidated, uncomfortable or threatened.
The commissioner says there are also certain crimes which are targeted towards older people because of their age or vulnerability and if elder abuse was recognised in hate crime law, it would increase the reporting of such crimes.
“There are certain crimes which disproportionately affect older people including abuse committed by a loved one or carer, cybercrime or theft from a residential dwelling. Crime reporting in the over 75s and 65-64 year-olds age groups is relatively low compared to other age category but there is evidence that there is a reluctance amongst older people to report crime.
“Given the average life expectancy in the UK continues to increase, we can only expect crimes against older people to increase and a new category specifically recognising older people as victims of hate crime, can only build confidence in reporting crimes which disproportionately affect them.”
To read David’s full response to the Law Commission’s hate crime consultation, please see online.