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UK could ban wolf whistling as part of new laws against street harassment

The UK Government strategy is set to be announced later today.

Image: PA Images

UK HOME SECRETARY Priti Patel has indicated that street harassment such as wolf whistling could become a specific crime as part of plans to protect women and girls in public, at home and on the internet.

The UK government is due to release a new strategy on tackling violence against women and girls later today, with a raft of measures aimed at increasing support for victims and survivors, reversing declines in conviction rates, and reducing attacks.

These include the creation of a new online tool called StreetSafe, which will allow users to pinpoint public areas where they have felt unsafe and say why, as well as a dedicated police officer in charge of tackling violence against women.

Patel also signalled her intention to take action on-street harassment.

The strategy was based on 180,000 responses to the UK government’s call for evidence from members of the public, with the vast majority of those coming in a two-week period following the murder of Sarah Everard near Clapham Common.

The 33 year-old was kidnapped, raped and killed by off-duty Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens in March as she walked home. 

Her murder prompted a widespread outpouring of grief and demonstrations over concern for women’s safety.

Patel said the safety of women and girls across the UK “is an absolute priority”.

“It is unacceptable that women and girls are still subject to harassment, abuse, and violence, and I do not accept that violence against women and girls is inevitable,” she said.

“I am determined to give the police the powers they need to crack down on perpetrators and carry out their duties to protect the public whilst providing victims with the care and support they deserve.

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“This strategy, shaped by the responses of those who bravely came forward and shared their stories and experiences, will deliver real and lasting change.”

Writing in The Times UK amid apparent plans to tackle wolf whistling, the Home Secretary added: “We are taking action on street harassment.

“I am committed to ensuring not only that the laws are there, but that they work in practice and women and girls are confident their concerns will be taken seriously. It is important that the police enforce the law and give women the confidence that if they report an incident, it will be dealt with.”

Further pledges include plans to criminalise so-called virginity testing, described by MPs as a “medieval” practice.

The review is published against a backdrop of dismal conviction rates for rape in the UK, despite the number of reported incidents on the rise.

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