Talking Stalking

By Rachel Griffin, Chief Executive of
Suzy Lamplugh Trust

WHEN STALKING became a specific criminal
offence in the UK in 2012, the Suzy Lamplugh
Trust welcomed the change in law, but warned
that training was needed to ensure cases were
handled properly. Five years on, we remain
deeply concerned over the issue. Despite an
estimated 1.1 million people becoming victims
of stalking every year in the UK, only 959
cases reached court in 2016. This leaves many
victims vulnerable and at risk from obsessive
stalking behaviour.

Last year, the government announced
plans to introduce Stalking Protection Orders
(SPOs). The Orders aim to make stalking
victims safer by allowing police to tackle
the risks that perpetrators pose while they
gather more evidence. Unlike broad measures
previously applied to cases, such as Police
Information Notices, the Orders are designed
to address issues specifically related to

SPOs will allow police to apply to restrict
perpetrators’ actions, for example controlling
proximity to their victims or banning social
media use. They could even require stalkers
to attend mental health or rehabilitation
programmes to help prevent reoffending.
Perhaps most importantly, the guilty face a
maximum sentence of five years in jail if they
breach the orders.

The provision of specific and immediately
effective legislation to protect victims is
important. We know early intervention in
stalking cases is vital when breaking the cycle
of obsession and fixation. By recognising
stalking behaviour and enforcing prohibitive
measures, frontline police officers can protect
victims at the earliest stage.

As the Chief Executive of Suzy Lamplugh
Trust, which runs the National Stalking
Helpline, I am pleased to see steps being taken
to protect victims more effectively. Stalking
is a vile crime that causes misery. It’s so
important victims receive adequate support
when they report their worries, and that
police take decisive action to protect victims.
The Stalking Protection Bill has its second
reading in the House of Commons on 19
January 2018 and I’d urge you to contact your
MP to lend support.

This was published in VC News, Issue 1.

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