To mark National Stalking Awareness Week 2018, Suzy Lamplugh Trust conducted a Freedom of Information investigation into the local response to stalking, looking at what progress has been made by statutory agencies including police forces and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) since the release of the 2016 Suzy Lamplugh Trust report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

Read the full report

While we have seen improvements in some areas, the Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Two Years On investigation has exposed significant gaps in the current system. There is still a serious lack of understanding of stalking across police forces and victims continue to feel unsupported and unprotected. There is also a lack of national leadership, including training and guidance for police officers on dealing with stalking cases, despite a number of high-profile, stalking-related homicides having occurred in the last two years.

Rachel Griffin, chief executive of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, commented: “Our report highlights how vital it is that statutory services are provided with leadership and guidance on stalking. Only with comprehensive stalking training, rolled out nationwide, will victims of stalking get the recognition, understanding and responsiveness they need. We also need police and crime commissioners to step up and ensure that there is local, specialist provision in place for stalking victims: our findings show that there is currently minimal provision available, and in many areas nothing at all, particularly for the half of stalking victims who are being stalked by someone other than an ex-intimate partner.”

Our key findings include:

Failures in police ability to understand and recognise stalking

  • In 2017, police forces recorded a record number of 8,364 cases of stalking This still represents less than 1% of the cases that take place each year
  • One force reported having recorded just 30 stalking cases in 2017 despite having a population of one million. Another force has seen its stalking cases increase from 30 to just 36 since legislation was introduced in 2012

Most PCCs have commissioned no specialist support for victims of stalking

  • Eight police and crime commissioners commissioned services that specifically work with victims of stalking in 2017-2018, including Dame Vera Baird, PCC for Northumbria, whose local service employs a stalking and harassment lead, and Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex, who has commissioned Veritas Justice to provide a local advocacy and support service for victims of stalking
  • But this leaves 34 other areas where police and crime commissioners failed to commission services that specifically work with victims of stalking in 2017-2018
  • Police and crime commissioners receive £68m from the Ministry of Justice to fund emotional and practical support for victims but, in 2017-2018, 0.25% of this was spent on stalking-specific outcomes. This represents a small increase from 0.18% in 2016
  • In 2017, the National Stalking Helpline, run by Suzy Lamplugh Trust, received over 7,000 calls and emails for help and advice. The Helpline was not able to answer all calls because of limited capacity and a year-on-year increase in demand for the service

There is an urgent need for national leadership on training and guidance for stalking cases

  • The College of Policing last reviewed its stalking training offer prior to the enactment of the new stalking law [in 2012]

Victims of stalking are encouraged to seek assistance and can contact the police. They can also contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300. Suzy Lamplugh Trust launched Out of Sight Out of Mind – Two Years On report at its Reporting Stalking: Best Practice in Stalking Cases conference, which took place on 16th April, 2018.

About the research

To build a detailed picture of the local response to stalking, Suzy Lamplugh Trust submitted a series of Freedom of Information requests to statutory agencies seeking data on their response to stalking crimes in England and Wales.

The latest investigation involved sourcing current data for England and Wales through a series of submitted Freedom of Information requests to statutory agencies as well as data collated from a seminar held in March 2018, with representatives from police forces, police and crime commissioner offices, Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Prison Service participating.

Police figures

Suzy Lamplugh Trust submitted Freedom of Information requests to all police forces in England and Wales to find out the number of stalking cases recorded in 2016 and 2017.

Funding for services

Suzy Lamplugh Trust submitted Freedom of Information requests to every police and crime commissioner in England and Wales, as well as the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in London, to find out how many grants had been awarded for projects in which at least one of the outcomes was to provide services to victims of stalking.

The national picture

Suzy Lamplugh Trust submitted Freedom of Information requests to named agencies referred to in the 2017 report, Living in Fear – the police and CPS response to harassment and stalking (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services [HMICFRS] and Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate [HMCPSI], to ascertain whether recommendations from this report had been accepted, and if so, what progress was being made against implementing them.