Street harassment will bring two years in prison under new offence backed by Government

Posted: 9th December 2022

Source: The Telegraph

Men who sexually harass women on the street or on public transport will face two years in jail under a new offence to be backed by the Government.

The Home Office announced on Thursday night that it will support proposals to amend the 1986 Public Order Act to create a new offence of “public sexual harassment” following a public consultation.

t would outlaw behaviours such as following someone, making an obscene or aggressive comment or gesture, “cornering” someone, driving a car slowly by someone walking in the street and potentially wolf whistling and catcalling.

The proposal had been opposed by Boris Johnson who argued that existing public order and harassment laws, if properly enforced by police, could be used to prosecute street sexual harassment such as wolf-whistling, catcalling and other abuse.

However the new offence was supported by Liz Truss during the Tory leadership race, Nimco Ali, the feminist campaigner and a former Home Office adviser on tackling violence against women, and Priti Patel, during her time as home secretary.

The consultation was launched after “shocking” findings by the Office for National Statistics that half of women aged 16 to 34 had been harassed in the previous 12 months and nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) had experienced catcalls, whistles, unwanted sexual comments and jokes. A quarter felt they had been followed.

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