Review to investigate if hostility to men should become hate crime

Spikes in reports of hate offences have been registered
Spikes in reports of hate offences have been registered

Offences sparked by hostility to men or the elderly could become hate crimes following a review of existing laws.

The Home Office has tasked the Law Commission to carry out a review of current hate crime laws as part of a series of new measures announced on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Interest in teenager was innocent, says ex-football coach on trial for abuse
As part of the review, the Law Commission will be looking into whether crimes motivated by hatred based on gender or older people should be hate crimes.

PA understands this includes misandry - prejudice against men - and ageism as well as misogyny.

The terms of reference to the review said it will consider "whether crimes motivated by, or demonstrating, hatred based on sex and gender characteristics, or hatred of older people or other potential protected characteristics, should be hate crimes".

The review is expected to be published by the end of next year.

It forms part of a refreshed strategy aimed at improving the response to hate crimes and incidents, which are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.

New measures include taxi drivers and door staff being given guidance on spotting hate crime under a new Government clampdown.

Advice will be included in the Department for Transport's best practice guidance on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing, which is scheduled to be updated in 2019 and will be considered for adoption by all 293 licensing authorities in England, the document says.

It also notes that new guidance for door supervisors sets out how they can ensure transgender people can have a safe and enjoyable time going to pubs, clubs, festivals and events.

The updated action plan is being published as the Home Office releases the latest annual statistics on hate crime in England and Wales.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Hate crime goes directly against the long-standing British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect - and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out.

"Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law."

Spikes in reports of hate offences have been registered following events such as the Brexit vote in June 2016 and the Westminster terror attack last year.

New figures released on Tuesday reveal a rise of nearly a fifth in recorded hate crime in England and Wales.

Forces logged 94,098 such offences in 2017/18, an increase of 17% on the previous year.

The new action plan says there has been a "welcome increase" in reporting, reflecting improved identification of hate crime by the police, willingness of victims to come forward and an overall improvement in crime recording.

The increase in reporting is also thought to reflect a genuine rise in hate crime around specific events, the document says, adding: "We continue to see a gap between the occurrence of, and reporting of, hate crime."

Other new measures include a nationwide public awareness campaign, extra funding to support communities and specialist training for police call handlers.

The Government is also set to unveil proposals for future legislation to tackle illegal and harmful online content.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: "It is completely unacceptable that anyone should live in fear of intimidation and violence because of their beliefs or the colour of their skin.

"We must challenge prejudice and intolerance, whenever and wherever it appears in our society."

Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of charity Action on Elder Abuse, said: "We welcome today's announcement that a review into hate crime legislation will consider the need for elder abuse to become an aggravated offence.

"Frankly, such a step is long overdue. Older people are being neglected and abused physically, financially, psychologically and sexually across the country every day."