Written evidence from Our Streets Now

10th June 2022 


About Our Streets Now

Our Streets Now is a grassroots, youthled campaign group that was founded by sisters Maya and Gemma Tutton in April 2019.

We aim to tackle public sexual harassment (PSH) in two ways; by enacting legislative and political change, and by increasing awareness and education around PSH. Our campaign is founded upon the mandate given by over half a million people supporting our call to make PSH a criminal offence. It has sparked a national conversation on the issue of public sexual harassment, platforming the voices of girls, women and marginalised groups who experience PSH. Our work cuts across different sectors, from educational programmes to work with transport providers through to policy recommendations such as these.

At the heart of all our work is the belief that girls, women and marginalised genders deserve to feel safe, and be safe, in public space.


We welcome the opportunity to respond to this call for evidence in order to ensure that the Bill, as drafted, will truly deliver a cultural shift in victims’ experiences of the justice system.


In this submission, we outline our views on the Bill’s definition of victim, and whether there should be any further measures included in the Bill, as outlined in the terms of reference. We also comment on implementation, resourcing and accountability challenges and commissioning support services.


The Bills definition of victim


The Bill defines a victim as a person who has suffered harm as a result of being subjected to or witnessing criminal conduct. Criminal conduct is defined as conduct that could be prosecuted under criminal law.


We are concerned that this definition of victim means that many of the 75% of girls and young women who report experiencing some form of PSH in their lifetime, will not count as victims, and precludes them from support when they report an incident.[1] This is because criminal law to prosecute PSH is not fit for purpose: it is piecemeal and disjointed and means that many sexually harmful behaviours in public fall through the legal cracks. In our research, of the girls who had ever reported an incident of PSH to the police:



Our legal briefing highlights the gaps in the law in more detail.[2]


We welcome the definition of harm (subsection 2). Based on our research, we know that PSH can have a profound and long-lasting impact on girls physical and mental health as well as mobility and participation in public spaces.[3]


We also welcome subsection 4: that a person can be a victim of criminal conduct irrespective of whether or not an offender is charged or convicted.


Subsection 4 is essential given prosecution rates for VAWG remain low, including for PSH. We strongly support the intent of this subsection to ensure that victims have access to support services at all stages of criminal justice processes even when no criminal proceeding can be brought or if there is a non-guilty verdict.


Further measures to be included in the Bill


Given that many forms of PSH cannot be prosecuted under criminal law, we strongly recommend that the Justice Select Committee consider widening the measures included in this Bill to introduce new legislation that would criminalise all forms of PSH.


A new law on PSH would mean that the many girls and young women who experience PSH would count as victims under the current definition used in the Bill.


A new, comprehensive law on PSH would also update and clarify the law for the police, prosecutors, the judiciary and members of the public, including those who experience it. It would have:  



We have worked with leading barristers to develop a draft bill which draws from best practice around the world and fits with the UK’s unique context. It includes the critical sexual element of these types of unwanted and harmful behaviours; it includes the mental element (whether someone intentionally or recklessly commits PSH); covers all forms of PSH; and has a proportionate punishment from a fine to 12 months’ imprisonment, at the judge’s discretion.  We would be happy to share our draft bill with the Committee and welcome opportunities to discuss its inclusion within the Victims Bill.



Implementation, resourcing and accountability challenges


As above, without changes to the law on PSH, it makes it very difficult to know whether victims of PSH are getting access to justice and whether improvements are being made to girls and young women’s experience of the justice system when they report, including whether they feel listened to and taken seriously, and whether perpetrators are brought to justice.


Whether legislative steps proposed by the Government will lead to an improvement in the commissioning of support services


We welcome the commitment to improve the commissioning of support services for victims. We are not able to comment on whether the legislative steps proposed will lead to commissioning improvements but would like to reiterate that support services must meet the distinct support needs of children and girls and investment must be made to specialist support for marginalised groups, including ‘by and for’ services for Black and minoritised women and girls.

Contact Details

For further information about this submission please contact our co-founder, Maya Tutton.






[1] PIUK (2021) What Works for ending Public Sexual Harassment. Available online: download (plan-uk.org) 75% of girls aged 12-21 reported they had experience PSH in their lifetime. UN Women also found that 86% of 18-24-year-olds have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public places: https://www.unwomenuk.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/APPG-UN-Women-Sexual-Harassment-Report_Updated.pdf

[2] PIUK and OSN (2020) Ending Public Sexual Harassment: Legal Briefing. Available online: download (plan-uk.org)

[3] PIUK (2021) What Works for ending Public Sexual Harassment. PIUK.