Sexual Harassment

Home Office written question – answered on 21st September 2021.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the report, What Works For Ending Public Sexual Harassment published by Plan International UK in September 2021, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing the recommendations on pages 56 and 57 of that report.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean The Minister of State, Home Department, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government is absolutely committed to tackling all forms of abuse against women and girls, including sexual harassment. No one should feel unsafe while going about their daily life.

Our new Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy, published on 21 July 2021, confirmed that:

  • The new national communications campaign which we will introduce about violence against women and girls will challenge sexual harassment behaviour in public places, and ensure victims know how and where to report it.
  • To ensure that police and prosecutors are clear on how to respond to sexual harassment in public places, the College of Policing will provide new guidance for police officers, and the Crown Prosecution Service will update its legal guidance on public order offences to add specific information on public sexual harassment.
  • To prevent this behaviour from happening in the first place, we need to deepen our understanding of who commits these crimes, why they do so, and how this behaviour may escalate, including through the new funding which we will introduce for understanding what works to tackle violence against women and girls.
  • Although there are a number of criminal offences in place which do capture this behaviour, we are looking carefully at where there may be gaps in existing law and how a specific offence for public sexual harassment could address those.

In our examination of the existing law and our delivery of the non-legislative commitments set out above, we will pay close attention to the responses which we received to the Call for Evidence for the VAWG Strategy, and to the work of specialist campaigners in this area, including Plan International UK.

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