Sexual Harassment of women and girls, including in public places, is totally unacceptable. No one should be forced to change the way they live to avoid harassment and abuse. The tragedy of Sarah Everard has started a public conversation on the threats both verbal and physical to women in public spaces. There has always been a lot of discussion on this in Parliament including in my previous roles on the All Party Parliamentary Group Women and Work and the Women and Equalities Select Committee. There is always more to do to make women feel safer and we need to have a difficult conversation as a society about how people behave and what we can do to educate men and boys on how to respect women.
Some action is already being taken, for example, with the wide-ranging Law Commission review into hate crime. Ministers have committed to following up the conclusions of the review when they are published as the basis for making any abuse based on gender or sex a hate crime. Ministers will shortly begin the consultation with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and forces on this.
I also welcome the new Voyeurism (Offences) Act, which criminalises the reprehensible behaviour of upskirting. There can now be no doubt that this activity is criminal and will not be tolerated. For the most serious offences, this law will ensure that the offender is also placed on the sex offenders register.
The Home Secretary has recently appointed Nimco Ali as an Independent Adviser on Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls. Nimco Ali will advise the Home Secretary and other ministers on the government’s new Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. We will be bringing forward the new strategy this year.
You may welcome the fact that the Government reopened a call for evidence to further collect views from those with lived experience of, or views on, crimes considered as violence against women and girls. The consultation previously ran for 10 weeks from December to February, but I am pleased it will now remain open until 26 March 2021 and I would encourage you to take part: https://surveys.ipsosinteractive.com/mriweb/mriweb.dll
There will be amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which we will be debating after Easter It extends the breadth of offences in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 relating to the abuse of positions of trust. The Bill encourages Police to impose stricter bail conditions in high harm cases, including domestic abuse. I am committed to working hard to ensure we do all we can to protect women and girls from intimidation, harassment and violence. The Domestic Abuse Bill is in its final stages in the House of Lords and I hope it will get Royal Assent by the end of April.