Violence against women and girls: street harassment law and top police role among plans to be announced

Priti Patel will unveil the Government’s plans to tackle violence against women and girls

Street harassment such as wolf-whistling could become a specific crime as plans to better protect women and girls are set to be unveiled.

Priti Patel wrote in The Times the Government was “taking action” on street harassment, adding: “But we will continue to look at gaps in existing law and how an offence for sexual harassment could address those.”

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A message is seen among the flowers on Clapham Common where floral tributes have been placed for Sarah Everard on March 13 (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

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At a glance: 5 key points

- More than 180,000 contributors have helped shape the strategy, designed to tackle violence against women and girls, which is due to be published by Ms Patel on Wednesday.

- It will include the creation of a new national policing lead to ensure best practice among forces and improve the response times to such crimes.

- The strategy also seeks to criminalise so-called virginity testing, described by MPs as a “medieval” practice.

- It also sets out a commitment to appoint two new so-called “Violence Against Women and Girls Transport Champions”, which the Government said will “drive forward positive change and tackle the problems faced by female passengers on public transport”.

- Further pledges include the Ministry of Justice commissioning a 24/7 rape and sexual assault helpline, while the Department for Education will work with the Office for Students to tackle sexual harassment and abuse in higher education, the Government said.

What’s been said

“The safety of women and girls across the country, wherever they are, is an absolute priority for me.

“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.

“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.

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

Priti Patel, Home Secretary


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

The case of Sarah Everard, who was murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens near Clapham Common in March, also prompted mass demonstrations about women’s safety.

And the Everyone’s Invited website also highlighted allegations of a “rape culture” in education settings.

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