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Diane Abbott: Yes, police should investigate hateful taunts

Rape threats: Diane Abbott told the conference she gets daily abusive letters PICTURE: PA

MISOGYNY allegations should be recorded by police, Diane Abbott has said after one of the country’s most senior officers argued that forces are too stretched to get involved.

The shadow home secretary revealed that ‘hate-filled’ letters, including rape threats, are received on a daily basis at her office and officers visited her this week to collect some of the latest.

She said forces should not be expected to pick and choose what to investigate, calling on the government to provide them with more funding.

‘If society sets certain objectives, if society wants to promote certain behavioural norms, then it is for government to provide the resources so the police can play its part,’ she said.

Ms Abbott was speaking yesterday at the conference of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, after its chairwoman told the summit the previous day that police should focus on violent crime.

Ch Con Sara Thornton said police could not afford to take time recording sexist taunts if no criminal offence had been committed.

She expressed concerns about a review into whether misogyny should be treated as a hate crime.

Ms Abbott said: ‘As usual, Sara spoke robust common sense but what I would say is, it’s not a question of de-prioritising hate crime, for instance.

‘I know Sara wasn’t actually saying that. But it is a question of saying that the police should not have to pick and choose between crimes.’

Asked if she thought allegations of misogyny should be recorded by forces, she revealed her own experience of dealing with abuse.

‘Just yesterday the police came to my office to collect some of the letters that we receive on a daily basis, threatening rape, threatening violence, hate-filled letters,’ she said.

‘I am in favour, because it is the right thing to do, to take the most serious action against hate crime. But we cannot give the police more responsibilities without providing the resources.’

In July, chief constables debated whether allegations such as misogyny should be logged even when no crime is committed — a policy already adopted by forces including Nottinghamshire. On Wednesday, the Home Office launched an advertising campaign to highlight examples of abuse that does fall foul of existing laws.

The government’s review into how sexist taunts should be treated will also consider whether hostility aimed at elderly people should be considered a hate crime.