One of Britain’s most senior police officers has suggested misogyny and misandry should not be listed as hate crimes, amid increasing pressures on forces.
Chief Constable Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), said forces were stretched and called for the Law Commission to consider officers’ workloads.
She told a joint conference of the NPCC and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners in central London: “We are asked to provide more and more bespoke services that are all desirable – but the simple fact is there are too many desirable and deserving issues.
“For example, treating misogyny as a hate crime is a concern for some well-organised campaigning organisations.
“In July, chiefs debated whether we should record such allegations even when no crime has been committed.
“It was argued that this information might be useful to highlight the issue, send a message about acceptable standards of behaviour or to put pressure on government. But we just do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving.”
The Law Commission is reviewing whether misogyny – prejudice against women – should be considered a hate crime.
Ageism and misandry – prejudice against men – are also being considered under the government-ordered review.
Thornton said the public expects an effective response to serious and organised crime, online offences, terror threats and targeting vulnerable people.
She added: “But they also expect the basics – responding to emergencies, investigating and solving crime and neighbourhood policing,” before adding that forces were “seriously stretched”.
“I want us to solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimes. I hope that the Law Commission’s review on hate crime takes account of the pressure on forces before suggesting the law is changed”.
I want us to solve more burglaries and bear down on violence before we make more records of incidents that are not crimesSara Thornton, NPCC chair
Recommendations by the Law Commission will be reviewed by ministers and could lead to changes in the law.
It comes as homicides reached a 10-year high in the latest crime figures released by the Office for National Statistics. Knife offences also reached a record high of nearly 40,000.
Thornton added: “More police and more police activity would surely result in less crime. We are seeing fewer police, less police activity and more crime”.
Last week, the Commons Home Affairs Committee warned of dire consequences for the public as forces in England and Wales are “struggling to cope”.
A report by the committee found that forces lost a fifth of their neighbourhood policing capacity on average since 2010.
Chair Yvette Cooper MP said forces were “badly overstretched”.
Nottinghamshire police in 2016 became the first force to enable women and girls to report misogyny under their local hate crime policy.
HuffPost UK has approached the Home Office for comment.