Helen Voce, CEO of Nottingham Women’s Centre responds to: Misogyny should not be treated as hate crime, police chief says
Helen Voce said: “I feel for Sara Thornton and her police colleagues. They are in desperate need of extra funding so her comments today about possible extensions to hate crime legislation aren’t a surprise. I agree it is not the police’s job to change culture so that woman feel safe in public places, while studying or at work. It needs a whole government approach with active community participation. However, the Police have a key role to play in speaking out on misogyny and helping to get the message across that it is not acceptable. Notts Police did this back in 2016 and there are a number of things to note.
- The Police weren’t inundated with reports. Since April 2016 there have been about 170 crimes and incidents logged. Our evaluation in July found that only 6.6% of women reported their experiences to the Police. Women screen out what they report. ‘I just thought if some random guy was following me it was just something I had to deal with and I’d be arrested for wasting police time if I reported it.’
- Women felt more confident to challenge misogyny themselves knowing they had the backing of the police policy. ‘If something happened now I’d be like do you realise that’s a hate crime in Nottm? I could report you for that. Because that would make them feel differently rather than me reporting it.’ ‘I feel more safe because I’ve actually got something to say to them now.’
- The police were able to take action on some non-crimes eg someone shouting from a building site and the police went and spoke to the company who invited the police in to talk to the team.
The police are bringing together forces who have implemented this policy to learn what’s worked well and to support other forces who may want to follow suit. It will also be great preparation if hate crime legislation does lead to a national roll out. So let’s not push this issue to the side due to pressure on the police, let’s bring it centre stage and make it everyone’s business.”