The Prime Minister risks fury from campaign groups that had called for a sea change in attitudes and the law in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder
Boris Johnson today refused calls to make misogyny a hate crime, claiming “real” crime is a more important priority.
The Prime Minister looks set to infuriate campaigners who called for widespread behaviour by men to be tackled in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.
A string of groups say making misogyny a hate crime would help nip the problem of male harassment and violence in the bud, and change society as a whole.
But Mr Johnson today said: “Rather than expanding the range of crimes we want to prosecute for, we need to prosecute the existing crimes.”
The Prime Minister insisted the issues of violence against women, domestic violence, rape and “all that” were his “number one issue”.
But he also indicated making misogyny a hate crime could overload the criminal justice system which is already struggling with a rock-bottom rape conviction rate.
Mr Johnson told BBC Breakfast the “anger over Sarah Everard’s murder is a symptom” of a “wider frustration that people feel”.
However, he added: “I think that what we should do is prosecute people for the crimes we have on the statute book.
“That is what I am focused on. To be perfectly frank, if you widen the scope of what you ask the police to do, you will just increase the problems.
“What you need to do is get the police to focus on the very real crimes, the very real feeling of injustice and betrayal that many people feel.”
Shadow domestic violence minister Jess Phillips said: “It is a disgrace that the prime minister has suggested to the millions of women and girls experiencing misogynistic violence and harassment, that misogyny is not a ‘real crime’.
“It is another exhausting example of this government’s continued failure to recognise the seriousness of the violence against women and girls epidemic. When will they act to tackle this crisis with the urgency it demands?’
The Prime Minister also said he wanted to see a culture change in police forces by training more female officers.
He said: “One of the best ways you can see that change happen is make sure that you have more female police officers.
“In the Met now you are now running at 40%. That is a good thing. I want to see those officers progress up the ranks and attain senior positions and change the culture.”
Armed officer Wayne Couzens used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage the fake arrest of 33-year-old Sarah Everard before he raped and murdered her.
The case has sparked a wider conversation about police vetting and about male attitudes towards women after Couzens was nicknamed “the rapist” but never removed from the police.
Yesterday Scotland’s Justice minister suggested misogyny could be made a hate crime north of the border.
Keith Brown told BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show the ministers would be guided by the group’s findings – but he believed such a move would be a “very important signal that these behaviours are not acceptable in society from men”.
“Her work is progressing very well and it may well be that we end up, depending on her recommendations, with a stand alone offence of misogyny,” Mr Brown said.
Downing Street refused to say if misogyny should be a hate crime when asked yesterday.
Boris Johnson ’s spokesman said: “I think what’s right is the police take a look in the round, as the Prime Minister said, to address the issues going on within the police force.
“We addressed the ways in which we as a society, and the police in particular, along with the criminal justice system, handle rape and domestic violence so that people have full confidence that the police are there to protect them, and that they do more to raise the bar on these important issues.”