Police forces across the UK should treat harassment and abuse of women that is motivated by misogyny as a hate crime, activists and politicians have said in an open letter.
MPs Jo Swinson, Stella Creasy and Peter Bottomley, former home secretary Jacqui Smith, and women’s rights campaigner Helen Pankhurst are among those who have signed the letter, sent by gender equality charity the Fawcett Society.
The letter was sent to Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick and National Police Chiefs Council chair Chief Constable Sara Thornton.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “We have to recognise how serious misogyny is. It is at the root of violence against women and girls.
“Yet it is so common that we don’t see it. Instead it is dismissed and trivialised.
“By naming it as a hate crime we will take that vital first step.”
Analysis of crime figures by the Fawcett Society estimated there were around 67,000 incidents of hate crime based on gender last year – with 57,000 of those being targeted at women, the charity said.
Ms Smethers added: “This data should be a wake-up call to all of us, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Women are routinely targeted with abuse and threats online and in our streets.
“We know that black women, Muslim women and Jewish women are particularly affected. The way we tackle hate crime must reflect that.”
Unlike other hate crime categories – such as race, sexual orientation or religion – police currently do not record crimes that are driven by the hatred of women.
Responding to the letter, Chief Constable Thornton said in a statement: “We do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving.
“There are well reasoned arguments for recording misogyny as a hate incident, even when no crime has been committed, but it cannot be prioritised when policing is so stretched.
“Protecting women and girls from violence, harassment and sexual or domestic abuse continue to be priorities for the police.”
Campaigners wants police chiefs to follow the lead of forces in Nottinghamshire, North Yorkshire, Avon and Somerset which have already adopted misogyny or gender as a form of hate crime for recording purposes.
In November, Ms Dick said “stretched” police forces should focus on violent crime rather than recording incidents of misogyny that are not crimes.