The horrific death of Sarah Everard has prompted a much-needed public discussion about how we can make our streets safer for women and girls. Sexual harassment is totally unacceptable in a civilised society, and no woman or girl should be forced to change the way they live to avoid harassment or abuse.
Public harassment is also often part of a pattern of behaviour that can escalate into more extreme forms of violence against women and girls, and I believe it is important that the authorities can identify these patterns earlier, and act to make our streets safer.
The Government recently appointed Nimco Ali to advise on the Government’s new strategy to combat sexual violence against women and girls. I understand that Ms Ali has highlighted the Our Streets Now campaign to make public sexual harassment a criminal offence, and has noted how, at present, harassment often goes unreported and unpunished. A consultation, supported by Ms Ali, into tackling violence against women and girls, recently closed, and the Government is currently considering the feedback it received. I look forward to its response to the consultation, and will not hesitate to call for further action if necessary.
More broadly, the Government is working to make life safer for women and girls across the country. The new Voyeurism Act criminalises the reprehensible behaviour of upskirting; the new Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill will make rapists and other violent sex offenders serve more time in custody; and while the Law Commission reviews proposals to make misogyny a hate crime, the Government is asking police forces to identify and record sexual and violent offences where the victim believes the offence to have been motivated by a hostility based on their sex.