Government supports a new public sexual harassment offence

Wednesday 14th December 2022 08:52 EST

Public sexual harassment was made a specific offence through government-backed legislation returning to Parliament on 9th December.
A wide range of experts were consulted over the summer on introducing a specific offence. The vast majority considered public sexual harassment to be a widespread problem.
The consultation showed the need for a specific offence to make the laws surrounding public harassment clearer to both the public and the police. Despite public sexual harassment already being illegal, the introduction of a specific offence will encourage women to report to the police, as well as emphasising the severity of the crime.
After careful consideration, the government is supporting legislation brought forward by Greg Clark MP which introduces harsher sentences if someone who deliberately harasses, alarms, or distresses someone in a public place does so because of the victim’s sex, with the maximum sentence increasing from six months to two years.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence. And that is why we are supporting this bill to introduce a specific offence on public sexual harassment.
It’s a complex issue and we’ve carefully considered the arguments, taking into account a range of views. We are putting the needs of victims at the heart of our decision, which will mean the criminals who commit these acts face the consequences they deserve.”

British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle, said: “No woman should be subjected to harassment or intimidation as they travel and we will always welcome any extra help in bringing more offenders to justice.
We have always taken reports of sexual harassment extremely seriously, however I hope the proposed legislation will reinforce our clear message to perpetrators that it simply won’t be tolerated.
We know that all forms of sexual harassment are under-reported to police and I hope this increased awareness will encourage more victims to come forward and tell us about what’s happened to them.”

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