07 October 2021, The Tablet

The need for hate crime category

Violence against women


With no sign he has given the matter the serious consideration it deserves, the Prime Minister has ruled out putting crimes against women in the category of hate crime. Commenting on the terrible fate of Sarah Everard, raped and murdered by a serving police officer, Boris Johnson said there were enough laws available already to deal with male aggression against women, and all that was necessary was that they be enforced.

He clearly does not understand what the concept of “hate crime” is about. They are not crimes as such. This is the way in which society marks its extreme disapproval of certain types of behaviour, already criminal, by increasing the punishment due. Thus assault aggravated by racial hatred will be a matter for the Crown Court, with the much wider sentencing powers given to its judges, rather than something for magistrates to deal with. And this of course reflects the extra attention that both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service will give to hate crimes. As well as race, the category includes crimes motivated by malice on the basis of religion and sexual orientation. But not towards women. Why not?

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