Skip to main content

Sexual Harassment

Question for Home Office

UIN 108633, tabled on 20 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to assess gaps in the existing legal framework regarding making public sexual harassment a specific criminal offence.

Answered on

28 January 2022

Sexual harassment in public places is an appalling practice, which this Government is committed to tackling. Women and girls have the right to both be and feel safe on our streets.

As set out in the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy, published last July, 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. This includes paying close attention to the views and reports of campaigners in this area. We are also closely considering the recent comments of the Law Commission on this subject.

In addition, in order to tackle public sexual harassment:

  • In September 2021, we launched the pilot of an online tool, StreetSafe, which enables the public to report anonymously areas where they feel unsafe and identify what about the location made them feel this way. The data is then used to inform local decision-making. Several thousand people have used the tool to date.
  • In October we announced awards of £23.5 million to Police and Crime Commissioners and local authorities under Round 3 of the Safer Streets Fund to make public spaces safer for everyone through projects to help women and girls feel safer on the streets.
  • In November we announced the results of our separate, £5 million Safety of Women at Night fund, funding interventions which focus on preventing violence against women and girls in public spaces at night, including in the night-time economy
  • In December the College of Policing published a new advice product for police officers, advising them about the preventative strategies and criminal offences which they can use to respond to reports of various different types of public sexual harassment.
  • The public communications campaign to which we committed in the Tackling VAWG Strategy will seek to change public attitudes and tolerance towards crimes such as public sexual harassment and help create an atmosphere in which women and girls can report such crimes to the police with confidence.

Answered by

Home Office