Carrington Walker Weston Mercury Published: October 14, 2021

A North Somerset councillor tasked with making the district’s communities safer has called for misogyny to be considered a hate crime.

The call comes after data released by the Home Office revealed that Avon and Somerset Police dealt with a record number of reported hate crimes in the year leading up to March 2021.

Cllr Mike Solomon told the Mercury that a breakdown of gender-based hate crimes would allow for the council to further its work to make women feel safer in their communities.

Mr Solomon said: “The next time the Home Office release these hate crime figures, I would like to see misogyny or other forms of gender-based hate, included.

“It would give us more insight into what we are trying to tackle as this is currently a real worry for me and my team.

North Somerset Council has recently won a joint bid with Somerset County Council to receive ¬£300,000 of Government funding to improve its resident’s safety.

A large amount of focus for this funding will be directed towards improving women’s safety following the high-profile case of Sarah Everard who was kidnapped and murdered by a Met police officer.

MORE: Council to educate kids to improve women’s safety

Cllr Solomon also stated that more should be done to help victims of hate crimes report their abuse and an effort must be made to educate children.

He added: “I think we need to target schools and young people to educate them on the subject and why it’s so wrong – more should be done to make reporting these crimes easier. Many people feel they are wasting police time when reporting comments but these things build up in our community.

“There is a stigma around reporting from a female point of view and this causes real concern.”

Avon and Somerset Police became the third police service in the country to recognise gender-based hate crime, which includes misogyny, though it is not yet law.

The force’s Superintendent told the Mercury hopes the rest of the country will adopt the same approach.

Superintendent Paul Wigginton said: “We launched our gender hate crime policy in 2017 after seeing a high number of crimes that were motivated by gender.

“We wanted to improve our response and to better understand the discrimination people face every day.

“Whilst we recognise gender hate in policy, it is not currently recognised in law. Recently, we contributed to the Law Commission review into all hate crime and hope the data will inform the decision on whether to make gender a hate crime in law.”

If you have been the victim of a hate crime, or have witnessed a similar incident, call 101 or visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/crime-or-incident to report it.