Could Wolf Whistling Actually Become A Hate Crime In The UK?

An experiment could now see the action being branded a 'hate crime' that is worthy of police investigation...

We’ve all been there, right?

Whether on your way to the office in the morning, popping down to the local shop to pick up a pint of milk, or just heading out for dinner with a friend, we’ve all been subject to an unwanted catcall. Sadly, it’s probably happened more than once.

It can feel demeaning. Irritating. And, at times, intimidating.

As Marie Claire reports, an experiment in Nottingham saw both wolf whistling and misogyny become ‘hate crimes’ worthy of police investigation. After it’s apparent success, it now seems that the rest of the UK might be about to follow suit.

So, what exactly will this mean for us? Well, if the plans do go ahead, women will be able to report a wide variety of incidents of harassment to the police.

Naturally, this has sparked debate, particularly due to the fact that it was brought to the nation’s attention during a segment on Loose Women this week.

'Loose Women' TV show, London, UK - 13 Sep 2016

When put to the panel, Coleen Nolan came up against the idea, but others seemed to see it as a step in the right direction towards changing the way that society views – and treats – women.

Viewers of the show were quick to share their opinions on social media, with reactions including:

Others, however, seemed to be of the opinion that the idea is not a good one.


It appears that it is the use of the term ‘hate crime’, particularly when applied to wolf whistling, that has sparked most of the negative reactions to the proposal.

But the wider idea of sexual harassment of course covers a lot more.

The official definition describes it as ‘incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.’

Yup. This includes a guy repeatedly trying to talk to you, despite being told that you’re not interested. And it could also include unwanted physical contact (on a packed tube, for example).

Melanie Jeffs, manager of Nottingham Women’s Centre, told the Guardian: ‘We know it’s a big issue that happens on a daily basis – it’s part of the everyday wallpaper of women’s lives.

‘This is about raising awareness, making women feel that they don’t have to put up with it – and that’s very empowering. Already women are ringing through to the police saying: “I want this to be recorded as a misogynistic hate crime.”‘