Dial 999 if you feel threatened by a man wolf-whistling at you in the street, says police chief
- Commissioner Alison Hernandez said they were ‘clueless about level of problem’
- She said she would like to see an app to help record cases of sexual harassment
- Research suggests 66 per cent of women have been sexually harassed in public
Devon and Cornwall commissioner Alison Hernandez (pictured) said: ‘We are a bit clueless about the level of the problem’
Women who are wolf-whistled in the street should report it to police, a crime commissioner has urged.
Devon and Cornwall commissioner Alison Hernandez said: ‘We are a bit clueless about the level of the problem.’
She spoke after a young woman told her she was surprised to be told she could call 999 if she felt threatened.
Devon and Cornwall Police said it treated ‘sex or gender-based hate crimes or incidents seriously’.
Such offences included ‘misogynistic acts such as wolf-whistling or catcalling’, the force said, and it encouraged people to report them.
Rebecca Broad, 24, had been walking a dog in Exeter, Devon, on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August when she ‘got catcalled out of a car out of the blue’.
The freelance writer and social media manager said: ‘It really worried me that I experienced this on a regular basis.
‘I think there’s a lot of attention quite rightly on upskirting and indecent exposure and committing sexual assaults but what I experience and what most women and children experience on a more regular basis is street harassment.
‘Whether that’s catcalls, sexual language, none of it is acceptable.’
She said as a result she no longer wore skirts while out ‘or if I do I wear shorts underneath’.
‘It changes how I look, where I go and what time,’ Ms Broad said.
In response to her tweet asking if anything was being done to tackle catcalling in Exeter or nationally Ms Hernandez replied saying she should call 999 if she felt threatened.
Devon and Cornwall Police said it treated ‘sex or gender-based hate crimes or incidents seriously,’ which included wolf-whistling and catcalling (stock image)
Ms Broad replied: ‘Wow – didn’t even think to do this.
‘I guess that shows how ingrained it is in me to hear comments from cars and bow my head and accept that they’re part of walking the streets alone.’
Women are feeling ashamed and degraded by sexual harassment in public said charity Plan International UK.
Children’s charity Plan International UK said according to its research, 66 per cent of girls and young women have been sexually harassed in public.
Ms Hernandez said she would like to see an app on which women could record or report cases of sexual harassment.
Ms Broad said she had ‘never even considered ringing 999’.
Sexual harassment was ‘so ingrained in how women navigate our streets, which is what is so frustrating’, she said.
She added the catcalling, ‘took me back to a place a few months previously’ when a car pulled had up alongside her.
‘A man rolled the window down and described precisely how he was going to sexually assault me,’ she said.
‘So having that playing on my mind every time a I see a car and someone shouting, it’s very difficult not to feel very threatened.’
Rebecca Hitchen of End Violence Against Women said sexual harassment forced women to pay for taxis, take longer routes home and avoid going home late on their own.
‘It is part of wider violence against women and consequence of gender inequality,’ she said.
‘It becomes part of the fabric of girls’ experiences from an early age.’