A UK Police Chief has told women to dial 999 (the UK equivalent of 911) if they are cat-called or wolf-whistled on the street.
Alison Hernandez, police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, expressed concerns that many potential offenses leading to women feeling unsafe are going unreported on Britain’s streets.
On an interview last Thursday for the BBC, the Conservative politician urged women to make emergency calls if “you’ve ever felt unsafe or felt threatened on the street,” The Telegraph reports.
The issue has divided police and public alike–especially at a time when violent crime has soared across the board and London is on course to record its highest ever annual murder rate.
Skeptics have drawn attention to tackling the issue as a drain on precious police resources which have been tightened, due to austerity measures, in recent years.
The official guidance states that people should only call the police number (999) if “a crime is happening,” “someone is in immediate danger,” “a suspect for a serious crime is nearby,” or “there is a traffic collision involving injury or danger to other road users,” and not for unsolicited flirtations.
Ms Hernandez was elected in 2016 as police commissioner and has since made it clear that she wishes to tackle misogyny and ageism, including them as hate crimes.
According to The Telegraph, Devon and Cornwall Police says it treats “sex or gender-based hate crimes or incidents seriously”, and encourages people to report “misogynistic acts such as wolf-whistling or catcalling.”
Nottinghamshire Police began tackling misogynistic offenses in 2016 to encourage more women to come forward to report potential sex crimes.
Since last year, men in France could be fined up to 750 Euros for wolf-whistling in public.
President Emmanuel Macron suggests the law passed so that ‘women are not afraid to be outside.’