Street harassment or catcalling may soon become a hate crime on the streets of London, with U.K. law enforcement officials saying that the halting of misogynistic remarks may reduce serious sexual crime violence overall.

Metropolitan Police said a series of pilot trials have taken place in England’s East Midlands over the past year that used harsher penalties on sexist incidents including “wolf whistling,” verbal abuse, taking unwanted photos or videos and other forms of street harassment, the Evening Standard first reported. Nottinghamshire Police have led the way in arguing that police chiefs across the U.K. should enact harsher penalties on everyday sexism in order to curb more potentially violent sex crime.

The National Police Chiefs Council’s head of hate crime told the Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee that debates are focusing on whether or not to impose criminal law on sexism at its lowest levels.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson tells the Evening Standard they are considering using more strict hate crime laws in order to potentially curb sexual harassment.

“We have been speaking to other forces about their experiences of the practicalities of recording gender based hate crime and will use this, along with feedback from our partners, to inform any future changes to MPS policy,” the spokesperson said. 

Although law enforcement officials said “hate crimes” are not easily defined and can take any shape, they are broadly considered to be any incident where someone is targeted because of their identity: Race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or alternative subcultures such as being a goth or even a gamer.

A statute put in place in 2016 by Nottinghamshire Police did make misogynistic hate crimes against the law, which defined them as "incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman."

Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton told Members of Parliament that the toleration of everyday sexism eventually leads to a culture that condones more violent sexual crimes.

“Issues such as on street behaviour that people feel should be accepted as part of the interaction of daily life actually has a detrimental and damaging impact,” said Hamilton. “Sexual harassment of a woman or a girl at a bus stop by a male might be some things that some women feel they are just going to have to accept, that no one’s going to do anything about it.”

Dozens of women reported misogynistic crimes to Nottingham Police in just the first few months of the region’s pilot program, according to police officials. Sexist offenses were reported at a rate parallel to that of other hate crimes.