Westminster Legal Policy Forum

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Next steps for tackling public sexual harassment - the legal framework and proposals for a new offence, factoring in lived experience, enforcement and prosecution, prevention and supplementing legislative measures

May 2023

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference considered next steps for tackling public sexual harassment and image-based sexual abuse.

It was an opportunity for policymakers and stakeholders to discuss the government-backed Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Bill as it progresses through Parliament, and also follows the Government’s announcement of plans for new legislation on image-based sexual abuse.

We are pleased to have been able include keynote sessions with Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, author of the Bill; Siobhan Blake, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Mersey-Cheshire; and Deputy National Lead, Rape and Serious Sexual Offences, Crown Prosecution Service; and Joy Allen, Police and Crime Commissioner, Durham.

Delegates examined proposals for new legislation targeting sexual harassment in public, as well as sharing and taking intimate images without consent. There was also consideration on the design of these new offences and issues around enforcement and prosecution.

There was also discussion on priorities for improving safety and preventing harassment in public spaces, and what more can be done to prevent violence against women and girls, including a review of initiatives such as the Safer Streets Fund and the ENOUGH campaign.

Further sessions assessed the non-legislative measures that are needed to tackle public sexual harassment and image-based sexual abuse, including diversionary tactics and possible changes to the PSHE curriculum.

Overall, the agenda included discussion on:

  • the legal framework:
    • examining current legislation for image-based sexual abuse
    • considering plans for new legislation
    • next steps for reform following MoJ and Law Commission announcements
    • incorporating the lived experiences of victims into the legal framework
  • proposals for a new offence: achieving clarity in definitions - the relevance of intent and consent - determining appropriate penalties
  • enforcement and prosecution: improving the police response to VAWG - overcoming evidential barriers to prosecution under existing laws - priorities for training and communication
  • preventing harassment: improving safety in public spaces - facilitating reporting - bystander training and guidance for workers in key sectors - reviewing the Safer Streets Fund
  • supplementing legislative measures: harm-reduction approaches - challenging harmful behaviour - preventing reoffending - diversionary tactics - reforms to PSHE and the role of schools and organisations

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the CPS; DfE; DHSC; FCDO; HMPPS; Home Office; MOJ; Ofcom; and the Welsh Government - as well as by parliamentary pass-holders from The House of Lords.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda