Priti Patel: Police must not treat flashing and harassment of women as ‘low level’

Saturday, 2nd October 2021, 10:43 am
Priti Patel: Police must not treat flashing and harassment of women as ‘low level’ (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Priti Patel says police must ‘raise the bar’ and make sure reports of flashing and harassment are taken ‘seriously’. 

Home secretary Priti Patel said she doesn’t want to see ‘postcode lotteries’ in how the police handle reports of flashing and harassment of women, as she said some forces currently treat them as ‘low level’ crimes

'Raise the bar'

Speaking to the Telegraph, Priti Patel said: "I would say to all women – give voice to these issues, please. It's right that that happens. There is something so corrosive in society if people think that it's OK to harass women verbally, physically, and in an abusive way on the street, and all that kind of stuff.

"I want women to have the confidence to call it out. I don't see all of this as low level. Where I am on this is parity of treatment of anyone that reports a crime. I don't want to see postcode lotteries around the country.

"This is a very clear message to police to raise the bar. Treat everybody in the right way. Make sure that when these crimes or concerns are reported, people are treated with respect, dignity and seriously."

'Can you trust the police? Yes'

Prime minister Boris Johnson said the public is “not wrong” to think the police don’t take the issue seriously enough, but said people can “trust the police”

Speaking to The Times, Boris Johnson said: “Are the police taking this issue seriously enough? It’s infuriating. I think the public feel that they aren’t and they’re not wrong.”

“Do I fundamentally believe the police are on our side? Yes, absolutely they are. Can you trust the police? Yes you can. But there is an issue about how we handle sexual violence, domestic violence – the sensitivity, the diligence, the time, the delay, the confusion about your mobile phone. That’s the thing we need to fix.”

Their comments come after former Met Officer Wayne Couzens received a whole life sentence for the murder of Sarah Everard, having kidnapped her by carrying out a fake arrest using his police-issue handcuffs and warrant card.

There have been calls for the Met commissioner Cressida Dick to resign over her handling of the case itself and the policing of a vigil held in the days after the murder, which was criticised as unnecessarily heavy-handed.

However, both Johnson and Patel have backed Dick to remain in post.