MAKING misogyny a hate crime in Scotland could “send out a very clear message”, Justice Secretary Keith Brown has said.

In the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder and the sentencing of her killer Wayne Couzens, there were calls for Boris Johnson to bring in legislation to make misogyny a hate crime in a bid to protect women from male violence.

However, the Prime Minister quickly ruled it out and said that "widening the scope" of what you ask the police to do would just increase the problem and that forces should focus on “real crimes”.

Earlier this week, senior police officers backed the policy change in stark contrast to the PM’s comments, and said that sex should be added to the protected characteristics in hate crime laws.

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In Scotland, the Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland Working Group, headed by Baroness Helena Kennedy, is currently examining the issue.

Part of remit of the group is to establish “whether the characteristics of sex should be included within the hate crime framework as a statutory aggravation and/or if sex should be added to stirring up hatred offences”.

Brown previously said the Scottish Government will act “swiftly” on the group’s recommendations, due to be released in February 2022.

The National:

Baroness Kennedy (above) is leading the misogyny working group 

Speaking to The National, Justice Secretary Brown said that he didn’t want to “anticipate” what the group will come up with.

He added: “I think the value of it would be, apart from the effect of a law, would be the message that it sends out that this kind of behaviour from the lower level to the much more serious episodes is not acceptable in society.

“Sometimes people will look at the law and say well if the law says this is wrong then its wrong and I’m not going to do that.

“It can have a huge message right throughout society, but as I say we’ll see what Baroness Helena Kennedy comes back with.”

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Asked if he believes bringing sex into hate crime legislation would provide a cultural shift, Brown said: “Boris Johnson said right away he wouldn’t do it, and I think that is wrong.

“I think we have to see what the merits of it are and it could have that effect.

“As I said even wolf whistling, casual remarks which are offensive, often if that goes unchallenged then it can lead onto much more serious things so I think it could send out a very clear message.

“It won’t be the thing by itself which affects a cultural change, there’s much more we have to do in schools and so on but I think it could make an important contribution and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the working group comes up with.”

The National:

Brown said it was wrong for Boris Johnson to rule out making misogyny a hate crime

It comes as Mark Hamilton, deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, told a conference in London that making misogyny a hate crime would not cause officers to be “inundated with bureaucracy”.

Hamilton said he was speaking in a personal capacity, but added: “I think this is a welcome addition to how we respond to crime and behaviour in this area.

“I think it’s a good way of understanding offender behaviour and preventing things escalating from the more minor offences up to sexually motivated crime and murder.”

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The senior officer said he initially thought that police had “enough to do” but added: “I don’t need any more convincing.”

Couzens was sentenced to a whole life jail term on September 30 after admitting to the kidnap rape and murder of 33-year-old Everard when he was a serving Metropolitan Police Officer.

The revelation during his sentencing hearing that he had used his warrant card to fake an arrest of Everard sparked outrage from the public.

The case led to a debate about women’s safety, particularly at the hands of men, as well as trust in the police and criminal justice system.