We are delighted that today ministers caved to pressure from our cross party campaign to increase protection for victims.
Our brave ambassador Dr Eleanor Aston clearly articulated her terrifying eight year stalking ordeal to then Justice Minister, Dominic Raab, in April this year followingJudge Tabor QC expressing his frustration when sentencing Dr Aston’s stalker that his sentencing powers were restricted. We have been working with Dr Aston, Alex Chalk MP and Richard Graham MP to increase the maximum sentence for stalkers and put forward a compelling, evidence based case for change with the victims voice at the centre of it, which was supported by campaigners and professionals.
Stalking is about fixation and obsession. It is an insidious and psychological crime that destroys lives. Mental health assessment, treatment and risk management are required in cases. We know that light touch sentences often result and short sentences do not allow for treatment provision. This leaves victims further vulnerable to psychological and physical harm, as well as stalkers on a trajectory to further psychosocial damage, which is unacceptable.
We are pleased that the Government has heard us and did a U-turn on their previous position. We look forward to working with the Government on the implementation, training and introduction of the sentencing guidelines for stalking.
Laura Richards, Founder and Director of Paladin, National Stalking Advocacy Service:
“This law change will allow Judges greater flexibility when sentencing stalkers and provide some respite for victims of stalking. This is about justice, ensuring better protection for victims as well as changing lives and saving lives. We are proud to work with brave and inspiring Dr Ellie Aston and grateful to Alex Chalk MP and Richard Graham MP, as well as Baroness Jan Royall for tabling the amendment in the House of Lords.”
Dr Eleanor Aston:
“I am absolutely thrilled that a campaign which began for me 18 months ago has finally led to a significant change in the law which will benefit stalking victims everywhere. When the man who has stalked me for 8 years is released from prison later this year, he is highly likely to reoffend, but now there is the prospect of a much longer prison sentence which will give my family and I the peace we need and deserve.
I couldn’t have had more enthusiastic and tenacious support from Alex Chalk MP and Richard Graham MP who have campaigned tirelessly on behalf of stalking victims and presented the facts to parliament in such a way that the government had to sit up and listen. Baroness Royall stepped up at a critical moment to convince the House of Lords of the absolute necessity of this change in legislation and Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service, have been there from the beginning with their wealth of knowledge and support. Today turns 8 years of horror on its head for me and my family, and gives all victims of stalking more protection against the perpetrators of this soul and life-destroying crime”
Baroness Jan Royall:
“I am delighted by the Government’s decision to double the maximum sentence for the heinous crime of stalking from 5 to 10 years. This will ensure that the punishment fits the crime and most importantly it will ensure justice for the victims whose lives have been blighted – victims like Ellie Ashton whose case was the catalyst for the excellent Bill presented to Parliament by Alex Chalk MP.
I pay tribute to Alex and Richard Graham MP for the work they have done to raise awareness about stalking but also to extraordinary campaigners like Laura Richards and the charity Paladin.
I am very proud that my amendment which gained cross party support in the Lords last month precipitated Government action before the debate in the Commons next Tuesday. I now hope that long awaited sentencing guidelines will follow this welcome announcement”
Contact Rachel Horman, Paladin Chair 07739 237 496