Labour’s metro mayors have united behind a parliamentary proposal from Stella Creasy to force the police to start recording misogyny as a hate crime.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool city region, and Dan Jarvis, mayor of Sheffield city region, are backing an amendment to the domestic abuse bill tabled by the Labour backbencher Creasy, which she believes will lead to police forces taking domestic abuse more seriously.
Hate crime legislation, which can lead to higher penalties being imposed for offences motivated by factors such as racism or homophobia, does not cover misogyny, although the Law Commission has said it is planning to consult on a proposal to widen the definition later this year.
The Creasy amendment would not make misogyny a hate crime, but would oblige forces to record crimes where misogyny was a factor. Creasy said the experience of Nottinghamshire police, which started doing this in 2016, and four other forces that have adopted the same approach showed that it led to domestic violence being addressed systematically.
“What the police have said, literally, is, ‘If we recorded it, we will have to do something about it.’ And you think, yes, that’s absolutely the point,” said Creasy. “The Law Commission have told us they are going to consult on how to incorporate misogyny into hate crime legislation.
“We now need the data to know the extent of what is happening, and what we are hearing from police who are doing it is that it transforms the way they deal with violence against women, because it makes the link between misogyny and violence.”
MPs will debate the amendment when they consider the remaining stages of the domestic abuse bill on Monday. Creasy said ministers had resisted her proposals, arguing that the Law Commission should be allowed to report first, but said the backing of the four Labour metro mayors, plus Liam Byrne, the party’s candidate for mayor in the West Midlands, was an important boost to her campaign.
Asked why the government was not supporting the Creasy amendment, a Home Office spokesperson said it would be wrong to pre-empt the review being undertaken by the Law Commission and that police forces were already free to record misogynist hate crimes if they wanted to.
Burnham said: “I’ve met with many local campaigners in Manchester who have made a powerful case for why treating misogyny as a hate crime would help ensure the violence and harassment women and girls face on a daily basis is addressed.
“A hidden story during lockdown has been the rise in reports of domestic abuse and harassment, with some police forces across the country already recording when crimes are motivated by misogyny. The government should listen and learn from the impact this approach has had and how it has enabled the detection and prevention of crime.”