The London Assembly has backed a campaign to make street harassment a specific criminal offence following a vote at City Hall on Thursday.

Though other European countries including Belgium, France and Portugal have specific laws targeting public sexual harassment, no such law exists in the UK. That is despite more than two-thirds of women and girls in the UK having experienced harassment.

At the full meeting of the London Assembly on Thursday, members voted unanimously in favour of a motion proposed by Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon that called on the Mayor of London to publicly back the Our Streets Now campaign and lobby the Government to introduce a specific law targeting street harassment.

Our Streets Now is a campaign started by two sisters in 2019 to educate and raise awareness about public sexual harassment while pushing for legislative reform. A petition started by the campaigners that calls for a change in the law has already received more than 460,000 signatures.

Following Thursday’s vote at City Hall, Caroline Pidgeon said the London Assembly had “sent a powerful message that we support the Our Streets Now campaign and stand firmly against the harassment of women on our city’s streets”.

She said: “We live in a country where many women are not safe at home, at work, when travelling on our transport network, or even when walking down the street.”

“With a recent survey showing 41 per cent of women in London fear for their safety after being heckled or harassed and two thirds of women and girls have faced street harassment at least once, street harassment should be made a specific criminal offence, as it is in so many other European countries.”

Our Streets Now defines public sexual harassment as “any unwelcomed and unwanted attention, sexual advances and intimidating behaviour that occurs in public spaces, both in person and online”, and avoids terms such as catcalling and wolf-whistling so as not to “euphemise this violence”.

In December last year, the Law Commission published its 500-page report on hate crime laws which recommended a Government review into making public sexual harassment a specific offence, though it stopped short of recommending that misogyny be made a hate crime.

The Law Commission says it “awaits an interim response” from Government over its recommendations.

Following Thursday’s vote in City Hall, the Mayor of London will be asked to publicly support the Our Streets Now campaign and encourage Londoners to sign the petition, as well as to write to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to call for a specific public sexual harassment offence.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Metropolitan Police will be asked to ensure that schools and educational establishments across London are developing clear policies on tackling harassment and teaching about public sexual harassment.