Sarah Everard: Merseyside MP leads call to make misogyny a hate crime

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Maria Eagle MP
Image caption,
MP Maria Eagle said harassment was an issue that "must be tackled"

A Merseyside MP is leading calls for police to record misogyny as a hate crime in response to the death of Sarah Everard.

It follows an outpouring of women sharing incidents of harassment and abuse after the 33-year-old's death.

An open letter sent to Merseyside Police's chief constable urged the force to make the change.

Labour's Maria Eagle said it was an "almost universal" issue for women "which has got to be tackled".

Merseyside Police has not commented.

Defining an incident as a hate crime means judges have enhanced sentencing powers.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Sarah Everard was found dead after disappearing while walking home in south London

Seven other forces in England and Wales have independently introduced their own misogyny hate crime policies.

Ms Everard was last seen on 3 March walking down a main road in south London at 21:30 GMT.

Her remains were later found in woodland in Kent. Met police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, is due to go on trial accused of her kidnap and murder.

The letter to Chief Constable Andy Cooke was signed by 13 MPs and more than 50 councillors.

'Need to feel safe'

It said the change would "allow us to get the root of the issue and understand how to best tackle violence against women and girls".

The letter continued: "Women need to feel safe on the streets of Merseyside and have trust in police and criminal justice organisations that they will be taken seriously and treated fairly.

"They need to feel their concerns are being taken seriously by the police and that misogyny is not normalised."

It said the force would be better able to get "a full picture of the problem, support victims, and make them aware of where incidents are reoccurring".

Ms Eagle, who represents Garston and Halewood, said it was not intended to be a criticism of police but rather a way of helping to solve a problem.

Incidents of harassment were "almost a universal experience for women and unfortunately for girls", she said.

"Everybody will have had an incident like this or more that they can recall, and frequently they are not reported to the police.

"That is an issue we as a society have got to tackle."

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