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Street harassment laws are being blocked by government, advisor reveals

CALLS for street harassment to be made a crime are being blocked by the government, an independent adviser on tackling violence against women said today.

Nimco Ali said that her plan to punish those who wolf whistle, catcall or persistently stare at women on the street has endured “pushback” and that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had not fully supported it.

Speaking on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast Ms Ali, who Home Secretary Priti Patel appointed as an adviser in 2020, said street harassment was having a “massive detriment” on women’s health daily.

She said: “For me, I would specifically love [for] public sexual harassment to become a crime.

“One of the things that I’ve seen is that a department and a secretary of state can have an opinion and then there can be other things [where there is] pushback.”

Ms Ali clarified in a follow-up answer that it was “other people” who were behind the delays, pointing to the need for Cabinet responsibility where all senior ministers have to conventionally get behind a government policy.

“I do think that there is at times a very masculine conversation in how government and institutions work, so we need to be able to address that,” she said.

Ms Ali concluded by saying the “Home Secretary and other people within the Home Office are very much behind it.”

Podcast host Nick Robinson wrapped up the section of the interview by saying: “Yes, I’m going to assume that the Prime Minister is not in this case.”

Ms Ali did not respond to the remark.

On the comments, a No 10 spokesman said: “I would point to a tweet from Nimco this morning where she addresses that and says ‘I did not blame him,’ referring to the Prime Minister.”

Pressed whether an offence of street harassment is still being considered, he said: “We will continue to look at where there may be gaps and how a specific offence could address those.

“I’m not going to get into specifics but as I say this remains a top priority for this government.”

He said he was “not aware” of any conversations between Ms Ali and No 10 before she posted the tweet, but stressed that Ms Ali said she did not blame the Prime Minister.


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