People in Nottinghamshire will not tolerate misogyny hate crime and a policy introduced in 2016 is already shifting the attitudes of both victims and potential perpetrators, according to a new report.
Over 87 per cent of people surveyed thought a policy change two years ago to make misogyny a hate crime in Nottinghamshire, was a good idea.
The survey, which was commissioned by Nottingham Women’s Centre and funded by the Office for Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, was carried out to evaluate the policy implemented by Nottinghamshire Police.
According to the survey, over 64 per cent of women admitted that they’d altered their behaviour in some way to avoid harassment, such as changing the way they dress, avoiding using public transport or speaking out less online.
However, a recommendation from the report said any future campaign around the policy should actually focus on the men who engage in these behaviours being the ones who need to change.
The report, which was put together by experts from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, also found that nearly 94 per cent of people surveyed have experienced or witnessed street harassment in Nottinghamshire.
Helen Voce, the Chief Executive of Nottingham Women’s Centre said: “The primary objective of the policy change was not to see hundreds of prosecutions, it was to let people know that this behaviour isn’t acceptable and will not be tolerated in Nottinghamshire. People should not have to accept this behaviour and shouldn’t have to change their own behaviour to avoid harassment of this nature.
“What this research clearly shows is that people don’t want it anymore, and this policy is a step in the right direction in helping to change the culture across the county and stop this happening at all. We also hope that other areas will follow suit.”
The survey also found that whilst the overall feeling of the public towards the policy is positive, misogyny hate crime is still highly prevalent but under-reported. This is partly due to the ‘normalisation’ of these types of incidents and people’s lack of knowledge that the policy exists.
A proportion of respondents also struggled to know what misogyny actually meant, and felt the term was too ‘academic’.
Professor Louise Mullany, from the School of English at the University of Nottingham, said: “Our findings show that the public are supportive of the policy which was implemented two years ago, and whilst there are elements that need reviewing, on the whole, the policy is a positive change. The regular occurrence of incidents which sit under this kind of hate crime reported by our participants is quite shocking, and Nottinghamshire Police were absolutely right in addressing how they deal with such incidences.
“It was clear from some respondents that the wording of the policy may need changing, to something easier to understand. There also needs to be more awareness about the policy. We are only two years on, and all of these issues are easily addressed. We have made a series of recommendations in the report which will be the next step in further improving the policy.”
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Our approach towards misogyny is first and foremost about supporting women and reassuring them that this type of behaviour will be treated extremely seriously. We also want to send a powerful message to society that behaviour which denigrates, marginalises and disrespects women is never acceptable and will be challenged.
“By itself, this new classification is not going to change behaviour overnight. However, working with local partners, we are determined to change behaviour which normalises unacceptable behaviour. I’m delighted that here in Nottinghamshire we are leading the way and that it has such strong local support.
“This is an important piece of research which will encourage a growing number of Police Forces to tackle the issue”
Dr Loretta Trickett, from Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University, said: “This policy gives women the reassurance that their complaints will be taken seriously by the police. It’s still early days but our evidence shows that this is happening, the women we spoke to felt they’d had a positive experience after reporting misogyny hate crimes.
“The next step is to continue to train new officers joining the force, so they see how it fits in with other hate crime offences and how it impacts on society in general.”
Rachel Barber, Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police and the force’s strategic lead for hate crime, said: “We take all reports of hate crime extremely seriously and it’s great to hear that the focus on this particular strand of hate crime since 2016 by the force and partners has given women the confidence to report incidents. Our aim is not to criminalise people or increase prosecutions but about making it clear that behaviour which intimidates, threatens, humiliates or targets women is completely unacceptable. However, we will of course seek prosecutions where these are appropriate. As the report shows, the vast majority of men are rightly appalled by this behaviour and it’s fantastic to be able to offer a victim’s perspective to educate and stop women being subject to hate crime due to their gender.”
A full copy of the report can be found here.
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