Wolf whistling and harassment in the street will be made a crime with sentences of up to TWO YEARS, Home Secretary Suella Braverman reveals
- Home Secretary Suella Braverman has confirmed backing for harassment law
- Wolf whistling and cat-calling could fall into a new specific offence under move
- Ms Braverman said those who stopped women feeling ‘safe’ face ‘consequences’
By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline
Published: | Updated:
Wolf-whistling could be illegal under a new offence of harassing people in the street – with sentences of up to two years in prison.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced the move as she insisted perpetrators who stop women feeling ‘safe’ will face the ‘consequences they deserve’.
The change is expected to come into force next year, after a consultation that found overwhelming support.
It will cover behaviour or ‘gestures’ that deliberately harass, alarm, or distresses someone a public space on the basis of their sex.
That could range from wolf-whistling and cat-calling to stalking and persistent sexist verbal abuse.
The government is adopting a private members’ bill put forward by former Cabinet minister Greg Clark.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced the move as she insisted perpetrators who stop women feeling ‘safe’ will face the ‘consequences they deserve’
Earlier this year the Office for National Statistics revealed that nearly a third of women had experienced some form of harassment over the past 12 months
Putting the Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Bill forward for its second reading in the House this morning, the Tory MP said even in his affluent Tunbridge Wells constituency women had to deploy ‘tactics’ such as pretending to be on the phone to avoid being hassled while walking alone.
He said it was a ‘loophole’ that there is currently no specific offence, and stressed that it would not cover clumsy actions that were not intended to cause harm.
Public sexual harassment is already illegal, but does not exist as an offence of its own – and the maximum sentence is six months.
Ms 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.’
Earlier this year the Office for National Statistics revealed that nearly a third of women had experienced some form of harassment over the past 12 months.
High-profile cases have also triggered a groundswell of support for more protection, including the murder of Sarah Everard as she walked home in London last year.
The government is adopting a private members’ Bill put forward by former Cabinet minister Greg Clark