On the 11-year anniversary of the stalking legislation being brought into force, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, on behalf of the National Stalking Consortium, launches a report detailing preliminary findings regarding the response to stalking by the CPS, HMCTS and the judiciary across England and Wales.

The Consortium, which is comprised of 21 stalking specialists including frontline services, victims, and academics, have collated case studies to illustrate the issues that are putting many stalking victims at risk and that warrant further investigation. 
The report suggests a lack of understanding as to what behaviours constitute stalking among prosecutors and the judiciary, leading in some cases to mischarges, the dismissal of stalking cases and a lack of implementation of SPOs. Critically, the report finds that even when cases progress, there are often significant delays in trials as well as poor communication with victims – leaving them unprotected.

The Consortium therefore puts forward several recommendations to implement systemic change to improve the CPS and judicial response to stalking, including:  

  • The creation of an independent task group to look further into the criminal justice process when it comes to stalking cases in England and Wales, from the point of charge to the trial in court. This group must ensure that all issues raised in these case studies are investigated thoroughly at a national level and addressed in order to ensure that the CPS, HMCTS and the judiciary adequately support victims of stalking.
  • Any professional in the criminal justice system involved in any investigation or legal proceedings involving stalking (namely the Crown Prosecution Service, magistrates, judges, HMCTS personnel working on stalking cases, probation and police) must complete relevant specialist stalking training. This is vital to ensure the identification of the patterns of behaviour that amount to stalking and the associated risk to the victim when charging the crime, as well as understanding the stalking legislation correctly, including SPOs, to ensure victims are adequately supported and protected.
  • Measures must be put in place to mitigate the potential distress caused to stalking victims throughout the court process. As part of this, any delays to hearings must be minimised and victims kept fully informed.
  • The CPS and HMCTS must work with the police, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the National Probation Service to implement a unified recording system which allows one to follow the journey of a victim and all incidents associated with them, from reporting stage through to conviction and sentencing. This must facilitate a clearer understanding of the reasons behind the high attrition rates for stalking across England and Wales

Read the full report here

Read the press release here.