Today the Domestic Homicide Review was released into the murder of Alice Ruggles, a young woman who had been subjected to stalking and coercive control by a former partner who went on to murder her. The review finds that there were failings in the response of various agencies including Northumbria Police to Alice’s requests for help, including the use of a PIN (police information notice) which was then breached by the perpetrator without his being arrested. There was also a failure to appreciate the true extent of the risk posed to Alice by her stalker.

Alice’s life was cut short by a man with a history of controlling behaviour towards partners, and after a sustained campaign of stalking, control and abuse of Alice. There were missed opportunities and procedural failings by the police in their response when Alice made contact to ask for help. These place victims of stalking at serious risk, and must not be allowed to continue. Key problems identified by the review include a lack of understanding by police responders of the seriousness of the pattern of obsessive and fixated behaviour by Alice’s stalker, and the incorrect and dangerous use of the victim-led policing framework to expect Alice to decide whether her stalker should be arrested. A key finding of the review is that this is a decision for police, and should never be made the responsibility of victims.

Suky Bhaker, acting CEO of Suzy Lamplugh Trust said: ”As Alice’s family have said so clearly, to prevent any other family from having to experience the appalling loss of a loved one at the hands of a stalker, it is essential for the lessons of Alice’s death to be learned. There are a number of key changes which must be made to police procedures to ensure the safety of victims of stalking. These include greater understanding among frontline police of the risks posed by stalkers, and the use of appropriate procedures to prevent these risks from escalating. I hope that the findings and recommendations of this review into Alice’s murder will be taken seriously, and result in better protection for victims of stalking”.

Suzy Lamplugh Trust is calling for training for police forces to ensure that frontline responders and investigating officers recognise stalking and understand the danger it poses to victims. This will help to ensure an appropriate and effective response to victims of stalking such as Alice, who should have been protected from harm.