Liz Truss to make street harassment a criminal offence if she becomes the next Prime Minister

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Street harassment would become a criminal offence if Liz Truss becomes the next prime minister, as part of new moves aimed at cracking down on violence against women.

Serial domestic violence perpetrators would be added to a national register – a move Labour tried to introduce last year but which was blocked by the Government.

Police officers would also have to undertake mandatory training in handling domestic abuse cases amid evidence that forces do not take such crimes seriously enough.

The foreign secretary announced fresh proposals on tackling violence against women and girls as part of her agenda on crime.

A Truss government would “rapidly introduce” the National Domestic Abuse Register to cover all forms of domestic abuse including coercive and controlling behaviour and financial abuse.

Last year Labour tried to amend the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill to include a national register to ensure future partners of serial abusers could be protected.

Under Ms Truss’s plans, convicted domestic abuse offenders would have to inform police of arrangements with new partners and their children, with harsh penalties for those who failed to do so.

The most violent offenders would be tagged, the Truss campaign said.

Calls for street harassment to be made a crime have intensified since the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard last year.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, backed the plans but they were reportedly vetoed by Boris Johnson.

If elected leader, Ms Truss would also bring forward plans to speed up rape cases to give more confidence to victims.

Ms Truss said: “Over the last two years, our nation has been shocked by a number of high-profile murders of women, many here in London. It is the responsibility of all political leaders, including us in Westminster and the Mayor of London to do more.

“Violence against women and girls doesn’t have to be inevitable. Women should be able to walk the streets without fear of harm and perpetrators must expect to be punished.

“Through increased police training, new offences, faster processes for rape victims and our Domestic Abuse Register we will ensure victims are protected and crimes are prevented in the first place.”

More on Sexual Harassment

Rachel Maclean, the former safeguarding minister, said: “Women and girls should be free to live their lives in safety and I know as Prime Minister Liz will deliver tougher safeguards for domestic abuse victims, including tagging for the most violent offenders.”

Maya and Gemma Tutton, co-founders of Our Streets Now: “Thousands of young women, girls and marginalised groups have spoken out about the harassment they face daily on our streets.

‘This commitment is a big step in the right direction. Any legislation must make all forms of public sexual harassment illegal, be available for all those who need it, and recognise the unwanted and harmful sexualised nature of this behaviour. Legislation is just one part of the puzzle, and we hope that both candidates commit to the whole society, prevention-based approach needed to tackle the roots of this problem.”

Kathleen Spencer Chapman, head of policy advocacy and research at Plan International UK, said: “It’s encouraging to see this being heard in this commitment from Liz Truss, alongside the Government’s current consultation.

“Plan International UK research found that 75 per cent of girls – some as young as 12 – have experienced some form of public sexual harassment in their lifetime. They are being followed, shouted at, groped and exposed to unwanted sexual advances. And this doesn’t just happen on the street, but on public transport, in parks and even at school.

“We have laws to prevent people from spitting chewing gum and dropping litter, but not to protect girls from harassment. This cannot be right. Whoever our next prime minister is, they must make it a priority to deal with public sexual harassment in the UK once and for all.”

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