All 2 Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe contributions to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022

Read Bill Ministerial Extracts

Mon 15th Nov 2021
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Committee stage: Part 2

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Ministry of Justice

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Excerpts
Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Committee stage
Monday 15th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 40-IX Ninth marshalled list for Committee - (15 Nov 2021)
Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, that is dealt with by the Gender Recognition Act. In that case, the birth certificate is altered and for many purposes, though not for all, that person is treated as a woman.

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Portrait Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I rise to support Amendment 219 and to reinforce all the powerful arguments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove. I am not a lawyer, but it seems bizarre that sex and gender have explicitly not been recognised in existing hate crime legislation. Crimes motivated by hostility to disability, transgender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation are all recognised, but not those motivated by sex and gender. Yet, in a report published in January this year by UN Women UK, 71% of the 1,000 women polled had experienced sexual harassment in a public place, rising to a staggering 97% of women under the age of 25.

This is made worse by the sad fact that there is widespread scepticism among women and girls about reporting violence and abuse to the police because they have no confidence that their claims will be acted on or even taken seriously. Violence against women and girls does not occur in a vacuum, of course. Hostility towards women and girls creates a culture in which violence and abuse is tolerated and repeated. That culture has to be changed, so a reform to legislation, which this amendment proposes and which I hope the Government will support, must be accompanied by a transformation of attitudes within the police.

I believe that there are encouraging signs that this is happening, albeit slowly. I was fortunate to attend the briefing that has been mentioned on this amendment given by the former chief superintendent of police for Nottinghamshire, Sue Fish—a pioneer of this approach —and Stuart Henderson, North Yorkshire Police’s hate crime co-ordinator, who is currently delivering this policy. It was absolutely fascinating to learn how much of a difference can be made when the leadership of the force is committed to driving a policy forward. A number of other forces are doing the same, and I commend this approach to the Metropolitan police force as it struggles to respond to the tsunami of criticism on gender-based hate crimes.

Because not all police forces have signed up, there is no consistency of reporting or approach to these crimes. That is why the amendment is necessary: to ensure that every woman and girl right across the country can feel confident that the role of misogyny in what they experience on a daily basis will at last be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. It is also necessary because it would require police forces to record instances of motivation by hostility to the victim’s sex or gender, enabling them to monitor much more effectively the incidence of these crimes and so address and prevent them. Evaluation of this approach in Nottinghamshire showed improved victim confidence to come forward and report crimes, and benefits to the local police in their efforts to combat these crimes. It is a great tribute to Sue Fish that she persisted in pursuing the need for this change, and to Nottinghamshire Police for embracing it as pioneers.

Finally, I am aware that the Government have asked the Law Commission to look at this, and it is due to report imminently. I hope the Government will not use that as an excuse to kick this into the long grass; even if the Law Commission reports soon, too many of its reports are ignored by the Government and not implemented. In replying today, I hope the Minister will acknowledge the urgency of this issue and commit to concrete measures, as set out in the amendment, to address it speedily.

Baroness Grey-Thompson Portrait Baroness Grey-Thompson (CB)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I assure my noble friend Lord Russell of Liverpool that I intend to be brief. I speak to Amendment 219A, to which my name is attached. Sadly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, has pointed out, violence against women and girls is still a major issue in this country. I do not think a week goes by without us reading or hearing about some terrible act.

A few years ago, I, like many others, would have conflated the words “sex” and “gender”. We discuss the gender pay gap, where actually we probably mean a sex pay gap. It has become clear to me that, as language evolves, sex and gender mean very different things. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, has outlined this amendment very clearly, but I also believe that adding “gender” is unnecessary, as it could add further confusion to an area of law in which existing terminology is inconsistent and at times contested. Just in the short debate we have had tonight, we have seen that there is plenty more to discuss on the definition. I think we all agree that the protection of all people is important, and we should promote dignity, but that should be done without confusion.

I believe that we should wait for the Law Commission report, which I hope will be published soon, because it is a significant piece of work which will help inform the debate further.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Home Office

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Excerpts
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, acutely aware of the time, I will be extremely brief. It is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, and to agree with everything she just said.

I pick up a really important point from the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool. So many people have been campaigning on this issue for so long, with the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, being such a powerful champion, and many other Members of your Lordships’ House as well. But I think we are looking tonight at two different kinds of amendments and two different structural issues. It is really important that we make it clear to those outside this Chamber that, as the noble Lord, Lord Russell, said, if we support Amendment 114F —I strongly support it—that will create the chance to have a debate in the other place. I want to make it clear to people that this is different from other amendments that will be considered later this evening.

My simple message to campaigners is that if Amendment 114F passes, as I hope it will, this is an opportunity for you to really make your voice heard in the other place. Write to your MP; make this a place where this debate is finally settled. I made a contribution in Committee, and back in March I made a contribution on the same issue on the then Domestic Abuse Bill. We really need to make progress, and this is an opportunity for this House and for people out there to get into this debate.

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Portrait Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I will be very brief, since I supported an amendment in November attempting to achieve a similar outcome. I commend the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, on her tenacity in pursuing this issue. This amendment simply builds on best practice already established in policing, where forces need to recognise the causes of violence against women. It attempts to fill a gap in our hate crime legislation, where sex and gender are the only protected characteristics not recognised, and to send a clear message that women’s safety matters. I simply reinforce those points and all those that the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, made. I support her amendment.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston Portrait Baroness Stowell of Beeston (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was not going to intervene in this debate, but I will do so briefly. First, I will not stand behind anyone else in a queue of people showing respect and admiration to my noble friend Lady Newlove, so it pains me when I find myself on the opposite side of an argument to her. That said, I agree with so much that she said in the way she described the crimes and assaults that many women experience. I also agree with a lot of what the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said.

I do not want to get involved in any kind of discussion about the difference between sex and gender. The point that I want to put on the record, not least because of what the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, said, is that there is not a consensus among women that misogyny should be introduced as a hate crime. I would be very concerned if that were to happen, not because I am in any way not concerned about the violence, the hatred and some of the discrimination that women face but because I do not want us to cultivate a society in which women are universally seen as victims and all men as aggressors. That is a risk and a potential consequence of us pursuing this course. I put that on record and look forward to the way in which my noble friend the Minister responds to this debate.