Tory peers to defy Boris Johnson with push to make misogyny a hate crime

Exclusive: Lady Newlove confident of cross-party support for amendment, despite PM’s stance

Conservative peers and MPs will defy Boris Johnson’s stance that misogyny should not be a hate crime and push ahead with attempts to change the law, the Guardian understands.

The former victims’ commissioner and Conservative peer Helen Newlove is leading the charge, tabling an amendment to the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, currently at committee stage in the House of Lords.

Lady Newlove said she was “disappointed and dismayed” at Boris Johnson’s comments this week stating that he did not support making misogyny a hate crime.

“I was dismayed with it. Because at the end of the day, we need to fully understand how women feel,” she said.

“If the rhetoric is we’re going to have an inquiry for Sarah Everard, for the prime minister to dismiss [making misogyny a hate crime] is not really to have understood what happened to her. I’m disappointed and hopefully the government will start to listen.”

Johnson came under fire this week for appearing to harden his stance against making misogyny a hate crime, despite backing an “experimental” move to require police forces to collect data on crimes apparently motivated by hostility towards women, in the wake of Everard’s murder in March.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said, six months on, it was waiting for guidance from the Home Office about how the recording should be done.

Lady Newlove said she was ‘disappointed and dismayed’ at Boris Johnson’s comments.
Lady Newlove said she was ‘disappointed and dismayed’ at Boris Johnson’s comments. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Asked whether he thought misogyny should be made a hate crime this week, Johnson said: “I think, to be perfectly frank, if you simply widen the scope of what you ask the police to do you’ll just increase the problem.”

The justice secretary, Dominic Raab, also rejected calls for it to become a hate crime and appeared confused about its meaning in an interview with the BBC, suggesting it could apply to abuse against either women or men.

The first step of collecting data was seen as a potentially significant step towards changing the law, and changing culture within the police to compel officers to take violence against women seriously.

Eleven police forces already record crimes motivated by hatred of someone’s sex or gender, with indications that data improves outcomes in addressing the abuse and harassment of women and girls.

Campaigners are calling for sex or gender to be included as a hate crime category alongside religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity, which would give judges the ability to increase the punishment of an offence if it was motivated by a hostility towards women.

The Law Commission is expected to publish a wide-ranging review of hate crime this autumn. It has previously proposed that misogyny should be considered a hate crime.

Newlove said she was confident of cross-party support for her amendment, which is championed in the Commons by the Labour MP Stella Creasy and is likely to be supported by Conservative MPs including Bob Neill, the chair of the justice select committee.

“We are probing the government to listen, and hopefully they will take it onboard and they will accept it,” said Newlove. “This is not just one woman on a mission, we’ve got men also on the amendment who will stand up and say it’s much needed. I won’t give up and I’ll keep probing because it’s very important that we recognise this as a building block to make people feel safe.”

Creasy said misogyny drove crimes against women, adding: “We don’t need to create new crimes to recognise that, if we give the courts the power to take that into account in sentencing and ensure the police record it, but we do need political leadership that understands it and acts to address it.”

A Home Office spokesperson said it would not pre-empt the conclusions of the Law Commission review, but confirmed police forces were being asked to record any crime where the victim perceived it was motivated by hostility to their sex. The government was “in consultation” with the NPCC and forces on how to take this forward.


Alexandra Topping

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Boris Johnson comes under pressure to make UK safer for women
Discovery of remains in search for Sarah Everard causes outpouring of anger as female MPs calls for tougher action

Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot

11, Mar, 2021 @8:29 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson admits justice system and police serve rape victims badly
PM says he will ‘stop at nothing to make sure we get more rapists behind bars’ after Sarah Everard case

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

03, Oct, 2021 @10:16 AM

Article image
Nottingham women welcome 'victory' in bid to treat misogyny as hate crime
Local pilot scheme led to a change in government policy on police data to help tackle abuse

Libby Brooks

21, Mar, 2021 @3:01 PM

Article image
Endemic violence against women is causing a wave of anger
Analysis: Sarah Everard’s disappearance sparks furious demands to address misogyny in UK

Alexandra Topping

11, Mar, 2021 @7:43 PM

Article image
Tory women’s group calls for investigation into police misogyny
Conservative Young Women condemns ‘deplorable’ police response to violence against women

Jessica Elgot

03, Oct, 2021 @2:36 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson to send Tory loyalists to House of Lords
PM hopes appointment of six peers to upper chamber will help boost party position

Heather Stewart Political editor

26, Aug, 2019 @9:30 PM

Article image
MPs to decide whether to make misogyny a hate crime
Issue will be debated this week as calls grow for harassment of women to be seen as an offence

Libby Brooks

02, Sep, 2018 @3:04 PM

Article image
Misogyny 'should become a hate crime in England and Wales'
Law Commission, which recommends legal changes, calls for sex or gender to be protected trait

Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

22, Sep, 2020 @11:01 PM

Article image
Dominic Raab confuses meaning of misogyny in BBC interview
Justice secretary appears to suggest term could apply to abuse against women or men

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

06, Oct, 2021 @8:32 AM

Article image
London bus attack victims join campaign to make misogyny a hate crime
Increase in violence against women during lockdown makes new law imperative, says MP Stella Creasy

Alexandra Topping

10, Sep, 2020 @5:00 AM