Sunday, November 27, 2022

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Super report against the police for stalking

Anti-stalking activists have filed a super complaint against police, alleging that officers fail to identify perpetrators, properly investigate crimes, or protect victims.

A group of 21 experts and organizations called the National Stalking Consortium said there are systemic problems in dealing with stalking, with only 5% of cases in England and Wales ending in criminal charges.

Suky Bhaker, chief executive of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which set up the consortium, said a significant number of stalking victims are abandoned by police.

The Super Complaint, a measure used to highlight broader problems or trends in policing, comes 10 years after a law change that made stalking a specific offense.

Ms Bhaker said: “We assist thousands of victims each year in our National Stalking Service and a significant number of them tell us that they are being let down by the police and the courts at every step of their journey to justice.

“If stalking is not recognized and investigated as early as possible, the risk of physical and psychological damage to the victim increases.

“We hope the outcome of this Super Complaint will result in robust recommendations to improve the police response to stalking across the country, which is so badly needed.”

Activists claim police fail to recognize behavioral patterns and often treat incidents as lower-level crimes such as malicious communication or criminal damage.

They said they are “very concerned” that reports of stalking are not being properly investigated because officials mistakenly believe there is insufficient evidence and that anti-stalking orders are not being used often enough.

Claire Waxman, Victims Advocate for London and a stalking victim herself, said: “Too many stalking victims are let down by the police and the justice system – stalking behavior is ignored or minimized and restraining order violations are not taken seriously enough.

“I fully support the National Stalking Consortium’s Super Complaint, which highlights a number of failures in the handling of stalking cases, exposing victims to further harm and causing unnecessary suffering.

“While I had hoped that the revised stalking legislation would result in better protection and justice for victims, a 10-year fee rate remains unacceptably low.

“It is clear that the justice system still struggles to identify and consistently combat stalking, leaving too many victims suffering and vulnerable. Change is long overdue as victims of stalking deserve protection.”

Once the Super Complaint has been filed, a regulator will decide whether it qualifies for an investigation.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council on stalking and harassment, said: “Harassment and stalking are serious crimes that can have a devastating impact on the lives of victims and their friends and family.

“Stalking is a crime that goes to the heart of violence against women and girls and deprives them of a sense of security.

“It is recognized that there is still more work to be done to improve the criminal justice system’s outcomes for victims of stalking, and we are working closely with prosecutors to understand the progress of cases before prosecution and in court.”

Police in England and Wales issued more than 400 stalking protection orders in 2020 and expect the number to increase.

The number of stalking crimes recorded by the armed forces has also risen, which the chiefs say is due to an improved awareness of offensive behavior.

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