Paladin welcome Her Majesty’ Inspectorate Report of Constabulary (HMIC) and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) Report having lobbied for forces and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to be inspected given our grave concerns that nothing has changed since our successful campaign to create a stalking law in November 2012. Sadly, the police and CPS failures are commonplace in Paladin’s casework and five years on, the HMIC/CPSI findings mirror the All Party Parliamentary Report published in 2012. Without leadership, investment and specialist-led training murders in slow motion will continue to happen and victims will continue to be terrorised and let down.
Many Independent Police and Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigations and domestic homicide reviews over the years have identified the same lessons and high risk behaviours: victim’s fear, victim not being believed, coercive control (where there is a relationship), separation, stalking, serial perpetration against multiple victims and threats to kill that are too readily dismissed.
Cases like Alice Ruggles in Northumbria, Shana Grice in Brighton, Anne Marie Birch in Kent, Hollie Gazzard in Gloucestershire and Justene Reece in Staffordshire and recently Molly McLaren in Kent and we have identified 83 such cases with the same learning and the high risk behaviour.
These cases are preventable and we call them murders in slow motion.
We know through research that 1 in 2 of domestic stalkers 1 in 10 of non-intimate stalkers, if they make a threat, will act on it. Yet alarmingly no priority is afforded to these cases despite 76% murders happening on separation, 34% within the first month.
The University of Gloucestershire found 94% of homicides they reviewed, stalking was present (2017).
When stalking, coercive control and domestic abuse co-occur these are the most dangerous cases and yet they are not being prioritised.
Despite campaigning for the new stalking law and it’s implementation there has been little investment in specialist led training since 2012 and lack of priority afforded.
There has been no investment in specialist services that provide advocacy for high risk victims, such as Paladin, yet we deal with the most dangerous of cases with acid threats being present in 12% of active cases.
There’s a clear need for risk assessment and risk management. The DASH and S-DASH – the risk screening tools – are often misused or not used at all. College of Policing seem more committed to moving deck chairs on the Titanic than ensuring an independent evaluation of the DASH and S-DASH and upskilling staff.
We know that only 1% of cases are being crimed as stalking (National Consortium 2016) and only 1% of offences are being successfully prosecuted as stalking (Paladin 2015). In 2015 we highlighted this to the CPS and yet despite holding a roundtable event and accepting all of our recommendations, they have done nothing to improve this on a practical level. The HMIC and HMICPSI highlights that the CPS are still not charging for stalking, rather harassment and plea bargaining cases for expediency. This is not acceptable. There must be investment in specialist-led training and creation of specialist CPS prosecutors and regional scrutiny groups who examine practice locally, cultural shift and change that lasts.
Serial stalkers and abusers should be included on ViSOR – the Violent and Sexual Offenders Register and managed under MAPPA – Multi agency Public Protection Arrangements just like sex offenders are, given their risk and dangerousness.
Laura Richards Founder and Director of Paladin said: “These cases are what I call murder in slow motion. In all cases that I have reviewed, there was stalking, threats to kill, high levels of fear, and women not being believed. These are the most dangerous of cases yet more resources are dedicated to burglaries and robberies than public protection, and there is little investment in specialist-led training. Little has changed since the introduction of the stalking law in 2012 and the lessons are not being learned. This is unconscionable and attitude, aptitude and leadership has to change.”
Helen Pearson, who was seriously assaulted and almost killed by the stalker, said: “I feel like my life has been stolen. Every time I reported I told them it was linked to the previous report. They did not act and then he tried to kill me. I have to live with this every day and only eight years later they offer me an apology. It’s just not good enough and I don’t want others to suffer like I have. The police must believe victims when they come forward and other live will be saved”
Clive Ruggles, the father of Alice, said: “Alice had the ability to light up the room whenever she walked in, and was at a high point in her life: new career, a great circle of friends, and a new relationship. Her stalker had a history of abuse, was issued a Police Information Notice that was not enforced when breached, and we believe Alice’s fear was dismissed due to her polite and respectful demeanour.
More training is needed along with a national register for serial perpetrators. There must be a focus on risk and best practice. Paladin’s work is important as it places the victims centre stage and focuses on risk and best practice. Sadly, there is much still to be done, as the horrible murder of Molly McLaren in Kent last week shows all too clearly.
“We have to stop this from continually happening. It seems clear to me that the warning signs are there in many cases, and there are stark lessons to be learned. By bringing together families, the authorities and Paladin, we can bring about effective change in the interests of everyone, but especially for those women terrorized by stalkers.” he said.
BACKGROUND FOR EDITORS:
1.Since Paladin was first established in 2013, on the back of our campaign to make stalking a specific criminal offence, we have developed a university-accredited course for Independent Stalking Advocacy caseworkers (ISACs).
2.The All Party Parliamentary Stalking Law Reform Report was published in 2012 https://paladinservice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Stalking-Law-Reform-Findings-Report-2012.pdf
- Paladin are the only trauma-informed national advocacy service in the world providing advocacy, support and advice to high risk victims of stalking.
4.The specialist team of ISACs has assessed and advised in more than 2,000 stalking cases and secured three more major legislative changes. We successfully campaigned for the domestic violence coercive control law, and for sentences for stalkers to be increased from five to ten years.
5.Laura Richards, Founder and Director of Paladin lobbied with Garry Shewan NPCC lead for the HMIC to take place in 2015. This is the first Inspection on stalking and harassment.
- 1 in 2 of stalkers and 1 in 10 who make a threat will act on it (Mckenzie, McEwan, Pathé, James, Olgoff 2009).
- 76% of murders happen on separation (Richards 2004; Femicide Census 2016). 34% happen within the first month of separation (Femicide Census 2016).
- 12% of 50 cases have involved threats of an acid attack (Paladin 2017).
- 1% of cases are crimes National Stalking Consortium (2016).
- 1% of cases charged and prosecuted for stalking (Paladin 2015).
- Evidence base for the register for serial stalkers and abusers
- If victims believe they are being stalked they should report to the police or call us on 0203 866 4107 www.paladinservice.co.uk
13. For all media inquiries contact 0203 866 4107 or Laura Richards on 07775 821416