This week marks the fourth anniversary of the stalking laws; the culmination of a hard fought campaign to recognise the seriousness of stalking.

And yet, despite the new laws, there continues to be a woeful response from the criminal justice system to this pervasive problem.  

Stalking causes serious physical, psychological, social and economic distress.  Victims’ mental health can seriously suffer and up to 40% are estimated to suffer from physical violence, the worst of cases resulting in murder.

The Office for National Statistics tells us that 4.9% of women and 2.4% of men experienced stalking last year. This equates to 1,136,000 people. But in the same period just 4,156 cases of stalking have been recorded by police. This is staggering considering that the National Stalking Helpline alone received over 11,000 requests for help last year.

This means that the number of stalking cases recorded by the police represents less than 1% of the cases that take place each year. 

Callers to the National Stalking Helpline repeatedly say either that they do not feel confident they will be taken seriously by the police or, if they have reported, that their case is not being identified as stalking. 

Since the laws were introduced in 2012, just 394 people have been convicted of causing fear of violence, serious alarm and distress through stalking.  This is just 3% of the number of requests for help the National Stalking Helpline has responded to and is shameful failing of those victims whose life has been upset by stalking.

People across England and Wales are being let down along their entire journey through the Criminal Justice System; from the moment they attempt to make a report with the police, to their hearing in court, should it get to that stage and beyond.

The National Stalking Consortium is calling for:

Improved staff training: All police officers, civilian staff and magistrates should be able to recognise stalking when it is being described to them by a victim and to respond appropriately.  

Specialised services: Victims of stalking across the country should have access to specialist help and support from trained experts who understand the nature, complexity and risks associated with the crime.

Commitment across the Criminal Justice System: We are calling on all Criminal Justice professionals, including police, Crown Prosecution Service, and probation services to make a commitment to providing specialist services for victims of stalking in their local area.  

Only by recognising and identifying the problem of stalking can we begin to improve the lives of victims.

Sincerely,

 

Sir Ian Johnston, CBE, QPM, DL       Chair of the National Stalking Consortium

 Suzy Lamplugh Trust

Action Against Stalking

Protection against Stalking

Network for Survivors of Stalking

Tracey Morgan          

Dr Frank Farnham                             

Dr Emma Short

Hamish Brown MBE                          

Dr Alec Grant