Men who sexually harass women in the street ‘could be jailed for up to two years’

·2-min read
Flowers surround the Clapham Common bandstand (Getty Images)
Flowers surround the Clapham Common bandstand (Getty Images)

Men who sexually harass women in public could be jailed for up to two years under new rules being considered by the Government.

The Home Office has launched a consultation to amend the 1986 Public Order Act in a bid to create a new offence of “public sexual harassment”, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Possible offences include following someone, making obscene comments and gestures or cornering a person.

Unlike hate crime laws, it will not be necessary for the defendant to be motivated by hostility based on the victim’s sex.

A document on the proposed law states: “Public sexual harassment will sometimes be based on such hostility, but not always, and this is one of the reasons why the Law Commission concluded that sex should not be added to hate crime legislation, and why the Government agrees with that conclusion.”

It comes after findings from the Office for National Statistics found that nearly four in ten of women aged 16 to 34 experienced catcalls, whistles, unwanted sexual comments and jokes.

Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss last month vowed to make cat-calling and wolf-whistling a criminal offence if she is made Prime Minister.

She also revealed plans for a national domestic abuse register as she admitted politicians need to “do more”.

The Foreign Secretary said: “Over the last two years, our nation has been shocked by a number of high profile murders of women, many here in London. It is the responsibility of all political leaders, including us in Westminster and the Mayor of London, to do more.

“Violence against women and girls doesn’t have to be inevitable. Women should be able to walk the streets without fear of harm, and perpetrators must expect to be punished.

“Through increased police training, new offences, faster processes for rape victims and our domestic abuse register we will ensure victims are protected, and crimes are prevented in the first place.”