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Misogyny, ageism and hostility towards men could become hate crimes

A protestor carries an anti-misogyny poster at the Women’s March in New York City. (Getty Images)

Misogyny, ageism and hostility towards men could become hate crimes under a new government strategy.

Ministers today published a refreshed strategy aimed at improving the response to offences that target a victim because of characteristics such as race, religion or sexual orientation.

In another step, the Law Commission will carry out a review into hate crime, which will consider whether abuse motivated by misogyny, hatred of men or ageism will be considered hate crimes.

The hatred of alternative cultures such as punks or goths may also be included.

The updated action plan was published as the Home Office’s latest statistics showed police in England and Wales recorded 17% more hate crime in 2017/18 than the previous year.

There were 94,098 of the offences in total, three-quarters of which – 71,251 – were race hate crimes.

Anti-racism demonstrators take part in a counter-protest in an attempt to block the route of Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) march in London. (Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Home secretary Sajid Javid said: “Hate crime goes directly against the long-standing British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect – and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out.

“Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”

Spikes in reports of hate offences have been registered following events such as the Brexit vote in June 2016 and the Westminster terror attack last year.

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Hate crimes and incidents are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.

Five strands are monitored centrally: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.

Some forces log other types of hostility under the hate crime heading, including reports of misogyny and incidents where victims were targeted because of their age or membership of an “alternative sub-culture”.

The new action plan says there has been a “welcome increase” in reporting, reflecting improved identification of hate crime by the police, willingness of victims to come forward and an overall improvement in crime recording.

Other new measures include a nationwide public awareness campaign, extra funding to support communities and specialist training for police call handlers.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “It is completely unacceptable that anyone should live in fear of intimidation and violence because of their beliefs or the colour of their skin.

“We must challenge prejudice and intolerance, whenever and wherever it appears in our society.”

Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of charity Action on Elder Abuse, said: “We welcome today’s announcement that a review into hate crime legislation will consider the need for elder abuse to become an aggravated offence.

“Frankly, such a step is long overdue. Older people are being neglected and abused physically, financially, psychologically and sexually across the country every day.

“But the number of convictions for these crimes is tiny and, even when someone is found guilty, they often escape with flimsy sentences and paltry fines that do nothing to deter would-be abusers.”

Home secretary Sajid Javid spoke about his own experience of hate crime (Picture: PA)

The blueprint includes steps designed to ensure that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers identify and report hate crime in the night-time economy.

Advice will be included in the Department for Transport’s best practice guidance on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, which is scheduled to be updated in 2019 and will be considered for adoption by all 293 licensing authorities in England, the document says.

It also notes that new guidance for door staff sets out how they can ensure transgender people can have a safe and enjoyable time going to pubs, clubs, festivals and events.

Mr Javid spoke of his own experience of being a victim of hate crime. The politician said he had been called names such as “a coconut, Uncle Tom and much worse” since taking on his Cabinet post earlier this year.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Javid said he had also been sent a “Punish a Muslim Day” letter.

“No matter who you are, these attacks have a personal effect,” he said.

“Sadly, we still hear incidents of intolerance, whether it’s a migrant being told they don’t belong, a disabled child being verbally abused, a Muslim woman having her veil torn off or anonymous keyboard cowards infecting the internet with hatred.

“It is the responsibility of us all to tackle intolerance so that we can live our lives in this great, vibrant country.”