Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Elections: The LGBTQ+ Q&A

Rory Finn May 5, 2021

On May 6, Sussex will elect its Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), whose role is to hold the Chief Constable to account for the performance of the police. They are also responsible for the local police budget and sets the precept, amount of Council Tax we contribute, to pay for policing. This election was due to take place last year but was postponed because of the pandemic. In the runup to the election Rory Finn asked all parties where they stand on LGBTQ+ issues. Liberal Democrat Jamie Bennett did not respond.

Misogyny will be recorded as hate crime from the autumn, alongside the existing strands of race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender and disability. Would treating such offences as hate go far enough or do you believe legislation to make specific offences must be passed by parliament first? If so, what would you like to see.


Katy Bourne (incumbent) – Conservative

I welcome the fact that Sussex Police is one of seven force areas which will be formally recording misogyny as a hate crime later this year.  I have been keen to do this for some time.

I think we should test how this is being carried out by police and we should also ask victims about their experience of the reporting process and whether they feel any more confident or protected as a result.


Paul Richards – Labour & Co-operative
We know from the pilot studies that recording misogyny as a hate crime is a major factor in women coming forward to make complaints to the police. 80% of women face harassment, but 96% don’t report it because they think the police won’t listen or act. Proper recording of hate crime is a start, but I would want to see how the new arrangements work, with a view to introducing more specific laws if that is shown to be more effective.


Kahina Bouhassane – Green

I welcome the fact that misogyny will be treated as a hate crime, which has long been a Green Party manifesto pledge. Rather than introducing new legislation beyond that, I would prefer to see the police better trained to deal with offences that are already on the statute books, so that victims of domestic violence and misogynistic hate crimes do not suffer the further pain of seeing their attackers go unpunished.


Roy Williams – Independent

I am not a psychologist but I do not personally think that making misogyny a hate crime is a good idea. It seems to me to be a single dimensional approach. The reason I say this is because from what I have read, the misogynistic behaviour is usually a psychological issue rather than a true intention to hate someone just because they are female.

The irony is that many men who are misogynistic are that way because of the way they were treated by their mothers or some other significant female in their life. So it seems to be a cycle of behaviour and rather than the misogynist being criminalised. If a pattern of behaviour is identified in the workplace for example, then agreement should be sought for a course of treatment and if such agreement cannot obtained then their services may be dispensed with.

So it will be made clear to the person that the behaviour is unacceptable but there is also some acknowledgement that there may be a psychological issue. But of course, the big question arises, who pays for all of this? The government has however, in the short term given the police a quick fix to address the issue as hate crime.

What measures have you or intend to implement to combat misogyny in Sussex. Do you think they will help women feel safe in Sussex? What role does the Police have in this?


Katy Bourne Conservative

I am on record as saying that we should consider greater protections from ‘public space harassment’ and I am very supportive of organisations and individuals who are calling out sexualised comments and intimidation.

Several European countries have already brought in very specific legislation to combat sexual harassment in public spaces. There is a degree of cross-party consensus in the UK that, despite the appearance of equal opportunities, we still have a cultural problem that allows the trivialisation of sexualised comments and unwanted attention.

Not all men harass women in public spaces and the vast majority of our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons want their female relations and friends to be able to walk the streets without fear or intimidation.  Let’s work together to marginalise the offensive minority.


Paul Richards Labour & Co-operative

I’d start in the family, and at school, teaching boys about appropriate language and behaviour. I would make it clear to male teenagers what is acceptable in public spaces and online. The police have a role in enforcing the law and setting a good example. I have written before about spaces like Brighton seafront and beach, which is not a safe space for women or the LGBTQ+ community, and how we can tackle street harassment with more uniformed police patrols, more visible communications by the council, and use of Community Protection Notices and Criminal Behaviour Orders to prevent male perpetrators of hate speech and harassment from even being in the area.


Kahina Bouhassane Green

If elected, I would work with partners to:

  • Treat misogyny as a hate crime.
  • Invest in specialist officers and further training for all officers to deal with domestic violence and misogynistic hate crimes.
  • Put funding for Rape Crisis Centre services on a sustainable footing.
  • Support interventions with young men to tackle entrenched misogynistic attitudes; we need to move the focus onto challenging male violence, rather than telling women ‘not to provoke it’.

In addition, I will put in place measures to further support gender parity within the force itself. While it’s great that three of the very top ranks are held by women, there are twice as many men as women in the force as a whole, and at Inspector level men outnumber women by four to one.


Roy Williams Independent

Firstly, I would need to see the data on this and how this behaviour expresses itself in society generally. I am a believer in treatment being made available as discussed above. It is a complex subject and needs careful handling rather than the routine criminalisation of people. I have concerns over the general availability of pornography on the internet for example, where any young man can access this stuff and more concerning than the nudity are the themes which suggests the normalisation of abnormal sexual relationships and objectify women.

Education and letting men know that certain behaviour is unacceptable and perhaps literature explaining the damage that pornography can cause to relationships and society in general and a general raising of awareness would I think go a long way. The raising of awareness of unacceptable behaviour by men would I think reassure women that at least the police are taking the issue seriously. I am of course also seeking to allow people who feel vulnerable to carry a noxious spray to protect themselves on the street. Police have a role but it should also be a wider community based responsibility.

Join us again tomorrow for answers to the questions: The last 12 months have been particularly challenging for minority communities which has at times been expressed through street protest. What is your view of the current proposals to curtail protest? 


Do you think the right balance has been struck by Sussex Police in its response to Black Lives Matter, Reclaim the Streets and other such demonstrations?