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Avon & Somerset Police to officially recognise gender-based hate as a crime

Officers say gender accounts for 41% of hate crime in the region based on crime reports. Photo: ITV West Country

Avon and Somerset Police will become the third force in the country to officially recognise gender based hate crime.

Officers say gender will account for 41% of hate crime in the region based on current crime reports.

There has also been a 46% increase in hate crime reports across the region since 2015.

46%
increase in hate crime reports across the region since 2015.

This is despite many women not reporting hate crimes against them to police.

Avon and Somerset Police lead for Hate Crime, Superintendent Andy Bennet says the move to class gender as a potential factor in hate crime is “a huge step towards ensuring the streets and homes we live in are free from prejudice”.

We know women are less likely to report hate crime committed by strangers in public, which could be because discrimination is normalised for many women. The new category will help us improve our response to hate crime as we understand more about the discrimination people experience everyday.

Our message is hate crime won't be tolerated, we take all reports seriously and we encourage anyone who needs our help to tell us or one of our local support partners".

– Superintendent Andy Bennet, Avon and Somerset Police lead for Hate Crime

Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens says "Being targeted because of your age, sexuality, race, religion or gender identity is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset.

I am fully aware of local people's desires to adopt gender as a Hate Crime, so I am delighted the Constabulary will now be monitoring gender as a motivation on crime locally and encouraging victims to report these crimes.

We also have some fantastic charities helping to support victims and I want people know if they are suffering, there is help available."

– Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner

SARI Director Alex Raikes MBE says “under-reporting is a huge issue”.

We are not seeing our Lesbian Gay and Bisexual communities coming forward and disabled people are suffering in silence all too often. We therefore welcome the recognition by Avon and Somerset of hate crime faced by women - gender hate.

Women should not tolerate any form of abuse because of their gender. We hope this will further increase the wider communities' awareness that hate crime must not be tolerated at any time."

– Alex Raikes MBE, SARI Director

China Fish from Bristol Zero Tolerance is a victim of gender hate crime.

She says gender-based violence is “a prolific occurrence”.

Having a gender hate crime category will help give victims the confidence that the problem is being taken seriously and lead to a stronger feeling of safety in the community. It certainly won't solve the problem overnight but it is a step in the right direction for much needed change. As we have seen from Nottingham's creation of misogyny as a hate crime, having this category in place has done just that. I hope to see it rolled out nationwide - it's about time."

– China Fish, Bristol Zero Tolerance

BZT has worked with local activists and women in Easton to design Call Out Cards which have been used around the city.

The organisation says it has gathered evidence and raised awareness of the issue across Bristol by collecting people's stories and testimonies in the form of videos, written accounts and geographical mapping of incidents to develop a picture of the problem in the city.

In total there were 117 responses to the survey and 38 incidents reported on the map.

According to the study:

  • 35% of people experienced street harassment weekly
  • 58% of people first experienced harassment when they were between 10-15 years old
  • The most common forms of harassment were being honked at in a vehicle and someone making a comment about their appearance (both 78% of respondents)
  • 70% experienced being called a pet name by a stranger
  • 67% were regularly whistled at
  • 76% of people experienced street harassment during the day
  • 98% of harassers were male and 92% of respondents were female
  • 81% of people had not reported the harassment they experienced to the police

BZT has created a toolkit for people experiencing street harassment as well as people who witness others being harassed.

Supt Bennet will host a Facebook Live discussion about Hate Crime this Friday.

Also involved in the event will be representatives from SARI and Lighthouse.

The discussion will provide a platform for people to ask any questions about hate crime and gender or any areas including reporting, policing and community support.

You can follow the event from 6pm Friday on the Avon and Somerset Police Facebook page.

You can find more information about hate crime and how to report it here.

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