The House of Lords inflicted a string of defeats on the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill last month, passing a host of amendments including adding misogyny to existing hate crime laws.
Undated photo of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. (Marc Ward/PA)
Home Secretary Priti Patel has written to MPs setting out why she is opposed to the amendments and urging them to back the government’s bill.
The Home Office has cited the Law Commission, which advises ministers, as saying legislating to make misogyny a hate crime would prove “more harmful than helpful.”
In a review (pdf) published in December, the commission recommended that “sex and gender should not be added as a characteristic for the purposes of enhanced sentencing and aggravated offences,” as it may be “counterproductive in some respects.”
It said, “The particular model of hate crime laws is unlikely to prove an effective response to misogynistic offending, and may prove more harmful than helpful, both to victims of violence against women and girls, and also to efforts to tackle hate crime more broadly.”
If misogyny is made a hate crime, the commission said, it could become harder to convict sex offenders and domestic abusers as prosecutors would need to prove a hate crime had occurred as part of another offence such as rape.
Announcing her intention to write to MPs on Monday, Patel said that “there are still too many criminals getting off with inadequate sentences for appalling acts of violence and sexual offences and still people who feel unsafe walking the streets or in their own homes.”
“This bill is vitally important as we overhaul the criminal justice system and make our streets safer. It must be passed soon so that we can continue to cut crime, reduce violence, and protect women and girls,” she said.
The Home Office said the revised version of the draft law will see a number of measures tightened, including extending the time limit for prosecution of common assault or battery in domestic abuse cases.
Home Office officials said ministers would also “continue fighting” to bring in increase police powers for dealing with “highly disruptive protests.”
The bill will be back in the House of Commons for consideration on Feb. 28.
Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said crime is “rising” and that Patel was “refusing” to take “major steps” to keep communities safe.