Make Misogyny History

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The Newlove Amendment: Giving Women Equal Protection from being a victim of Crime
Briefing for the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill



The murders of Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman shocked the country and led to calls tackle violence against women and girls. Yet the Counting Dead Women survey shows since March 2021 when Sarah was killed, over a hundred more women have been murdered. Rape convictions have fallen to a record low. Many of those who perpetrate violence against women are repeat offenders, whose violence and abuse shows a pattern of escalation, but all too often is not identified in time to intervene and prevent further harm.

The Newlove amendment builds on best practice in policing on how to recognise the causes of violence against women, and to allow society to send a clear message that women should be equally protected from those whose hatred or hostility towards them causes them harm. It does this by rectifying a gap in our hate crime legislation, where ‘sex or gender’ are the only protected characteristics that are not recognised. By adding ‘sex or gender’ to the list of aggravating factors in sentencing, our courts can adjust sentences to recognize how and when individuals are targeted for criminal acts simply because of their identity.

Whilst this proposal covers all sex or gender cases, evidence shows that most crimes where such hostility is identified relate directly to women. Just as increasing the tariff for crimes targeted at individuals because of their ethnicity or religious identity has sent a strong message in society about unacceptable behaviour, so this would help challenge the treatment of violence against women and girls within our criminal justice system and wider society.

The Newlove amendment doesn’t create any new offences, it gives clear direction that no one should be targeted for harm simply because of who they are – whether the colour of their skin, their sexuality or in this instance their sex or gender. For those who are often targeted for multiple aspects of their identity – such as their religious background as well as their sex – it enables the law to recognise these factors equally and act.

This proposal has the support of a wide variety of expert organisations who work on tackling hate crime, violence against women and policing. It also reflects a recent Law Commission investigation into hate crime. The time has come to give women equal protection – please support the Newlove amendment to the Policing, Crime and Sentencing Bill.


In 2016 Nottinghamshire Police became the first police force in the country to enable women and girls to report cases of abuse and harassment as misogyny. Following this example, North Yorkshire, Somerset and Avon, and Northamptonshire have also made misogyny a hate crime and so are already recording these figures to enable such an approach.

In March 2021, in response to an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill, the Government agreed to require all police forces in England and Wales to undertake a trial period of recording misogynistic hate crimes which is due to begin in Autumn 2021. However, to date no measures have been brought in to realise the pledge to Parliament to ensure police undertake this reporting.

Furthermore, at present there is no mechanism for our courts to recognise when a crime is motivated by misogyny in sentencing – this contrasts with other forms of hatred which if proven can secure an aggravated sentence.

Adding ‘sex or gender’ to hate crime recording means police forces would log and monitor such incidents, enabling them to create a full picture of the problem and where incidents are reoccurring, as well as better support victims. Enabling the courts to recognise it in sentencing would send a strong message about the unacceptable nature of this behaviour and the seriousness with which society will act.

What is Hate Crime Legislation?

A hate crime can be an incident of verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault or bullying, as well as damage to property. Hate crime legislation is rooted in a need to protect people from such crimes who are targeted for them because of their identity. The courts then take evidence as to whether a crime is motivated by such hatred and use in sentencing accordingly. To support these prosecutions, the police record and gather evidence of this hatred as part of the investigation process.

Existing hate crime legislation recognises crimes motivated by hostility towards race, religion, disability, transgender identity, and sexual orientation. This proposal would extend this protection to those targeted because of their sex or gender. Women and girls from black and minority ethnic groups often experience hate crime based on multiple characteristics but our legal system cannot take an intersectional approach. For example, Muslim women may be victims of hate crime because they are Muslim and they are women. 42% of 14-21 year-old women from black and ethnic minority backgrounds report unwanted sexual attention at least once a month. Women and girls with intellectual disabilities are also disproportionately subjected to street harassment, sexually based violence and abuse for the dual reasons of their disabilities and sex or gender.

Impact on Women and Girls

Evidence shows widespread scepticism from women and girls about reporting violence and abuse due to a lack of confidence their concerns will be taken seriously. It is clear that women are right to be concerned that the violence and abuse they face often does not result in criminal sanction.

  • A report, published in January 2021 by UN Women UK showed in a poll of 1,000 UK women that while 80% of women of all ages said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces, 96% of respondents did not report these incidents, with 45% saying it would not change anything.
  • In March 2021 Hope not Hate published figures which showed that 85,000 women are raped each year, but that only 1.4% of rape cases in England and Wales which had been recorded by the police ended with the suspect being charged. This is the lowest figure ever recorded.
  • The Law Commission’s own research notes there were 67,000 incidents of hate crime based on sex in 2018 - 57,000 of which were targeted at women.

Evaluation of this approach in Nottinghamshire showed improved victim confidence to report crimes, helping the local police combat these crimes. Women’s Aid report that police forces who are recording misogyny have not seen an influx in reporting of wolf whistling, but have instead received a growing number of reports of serious crimes.

Law Commission Review of Hate Crime

The Law Commission recently published the outcome of their review into all hate crime legislation which began in 2018. This raised concerns about treating all crimes targeted at women as potentially hate crime, because of the risk that a ‘hierarchy of offending’ could be created. This would mean crimes such as rape and domestic abuse could see sentences determined by the language used by an offender, despite being rooted in the perpetrators attitude towards women. They recommended that any change to sentencing should acknowledge this issue – therefore the Newlove amendment explicitly distinguishes between serious sexual violence crimes, and other forms of crime which may be enacted with a misogynistic intent.

The process of ‘carving out’ certain offences from hate crime legislation is well established – the Criminal Justice Act 2003 deals with certain racial or religious aggravation separately to aggravation based on sexual orientation, disability and transgender status. The effect of some sections of this legislation is to exclude several offences from the application of the enhanced sentencing regime, with this exclusion applying only to racially and religiously aggravated offences. This is because the excluded offences are already aggravated in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which only applies to race or religion, and which contains more serious penalties. ‘Carving’ these offences out ensures that the original higher sentences are not abolished by the subsequent hate crime legislation.

What does the Newlove Amendment do?

Building on the work done by police forces across the country and the Law Commission consultation, this amendment reflects three key proposals to ensure that violence against women and girls is treated with the seriousness that it warrants.

  1. It requires all police forces to record and report on the number of crimes in their area where the victim feels that the crime was motivated by hostility towards their sex or gender. This would enable them to identify patterns of this behaviour, making it easier to target resources to address and prevent violence against women and girls. This will also allow us to build a national picture of violence against women and girls – something which is currently impossible.
  2. It gives courts the power to treat hostility towards a persons sex or gender as an aggravating factor at sentencing. This would send a clear signal about how seriously our legal system takes violence against women and girls, putting this on a par with racist, homophobic or ableist violence, encouraging police to dedicate appropriate resources to addressing it.
  3. Finally, the new sentencing provisions in this amendment would not apply to sexual offences or domestic abuse. While these crimes are rooted in misogyny, the burden of proof means that adding them to the hate crime framework risks creating hierarchies of offences which do not reflect the incredibly serious nature of these crimes. This is not to say that these crimes are not misogynistic in their motivation, but recognizes the concerns raised with the Law Commission that hate crime laws were not the best way to address them.

How are ‘serious’ sexual offences and domestic abuse defined?

Following a campaign led by Baroness Bertin, the Government has accepted that the Serious Violence Duty in this Bill should specifically include sexual offences and domestic abuse. This will ensure that police strategies to reduce serious violence also take account of these offences.

In doing this, the Government produced a definition of both domestic abuse and sexual offences for the purposes of the Serious Violence Duty, which was included in the Bill as amendments 15 and 16 at Committee stage. We have used the same definitions in order to ensure a joined up approach to the most serious sexual and domestic offences.

This definition covers offences prosecuted under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, as well as the list of offences specified as ‘sexual offences’ in Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Why ‘sex or gender’?

The use of ‘sex or gender’ follows the approach proposed by the Law Commission report on hate crime. This ensures that all crimes motivated by misogyny (or misandry) are captured by the new law, rather than leaving loopholes which could undermine the new system.

All hate crimes are based on hostility towards a person’s perceived status. This means, for example, an attack motivated by anti-Semitism is still a hate crime if the victim was perceived to be Jewish as well as if the victim is Jewish. This ensures that all crimes motivated by hatred are covered, and any potential evidence this generates about the conduct of a perpetrator included in a prosecution. This amendment takes the same approach to misogynist or misandrist crimes and so both would be reported and included. The evidence from the police forces already using this approach is that overwhelmingly women come forward to report hate crime – in Nottinghamshire and Avon and Somerset, 90% of victims reporting were women, and in Devon 80% of reports came from women.

The use of ‘sex or gender’ also ensures that all those who experience misogyny as a factor in criminal behaviour are able to report it as such. Whilst transphobic crimes are already part of our hate crime rubric, enabling transwomen and non-binary people to report incidents will ensure a complete picture of offending. In turn this also ensures the focus of the reporting and the courts would be on the perpetrators of crimes and whether their behaviour was criminal - rather than enabling perpetrators to have a defence based on their analysis of the victim’s status.

How would ‘gender’ be defined?

A term does not have to be legally defined to be part of an offence. In hate crimes, the courts play a key role in deciding whether an offender has acted in hatred towards a person – the Crown Prosecution Service use the following guide for all hate crimes:

"Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice…There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.”

In the Equality Act 2010, sex is defined as follows:

In relation to the protected characteristic of sex—

(a)a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a man or to a woman;

(b)a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons of the same sex.

It is notable that in law the terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are not defined. The Government Equalities Office provided a list of terms to help set the context and support respondents in completing the 2018 Gender Recognition Act Consultation. This included the following definition of gender:

Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender refers to socially constructed characteristics, and is often assumed from the sex people are registered as at birth.

These definitions have been repeated on the record in parliament in March 2020 as underpinning the Government’s approach.

Under hate crime legislation, there is no formal description of ‘hostility’. It is for the police to gather evidence, and the courts to determine whether a perpetrator was motivated by hostility. If the courts agree that this is the case, then a judge can apply an additional tariff in sentencing. The CPS explain a hate crime is:

"Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice…There is no legal definition of hostility so we use the everyday understanding of the word which includes ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.”

Would this make cat-calling illegal?

This wouldn’t criminalise any activity which is currently legal. If cat-calling is serious enough to count as harassment or public disorder, it is already a crime but, if an incident does not meet this bar, this amendment would not criminalise it. This amendment is not about creating new crimes but ensuring that existing crimes motivated by misogyny are taken seriously.


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