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Campaigners bring super complaint against police over stalking

The National Stalking Consortium, made up of a group of 21 expert individuals and organisations, have brought the super complaint ten years after stalking became a criminal offence.

A super complaint has been brought against the police by a group of anti-stalking campaigners who claim there are systemic issues in how the offence is dealt with.

The National Stalking Consortium, comprised of 21 expert individuals and organisations, argue the police are failing to identify offenders, properly investigate crimes or protect victims.

The action is being brought ten years after stalking became a specific offence in law; cuirrently, only 5% of cases in England and Wales lead to a charge.

Suky Bhaker, CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust that set up the consortium, hopes this super complaint prompts "robust recommendations to improve the police response to stalking across the country". 

She said: "We support thousands of victims every year across 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."

One of the allegations is that police are failing to identify patterns of behaviour and often treat incidents as lower level crimes such as malicious communications or criminal damage.

There is also a concern that stalking protection orders are not used often enough. Forces in England and Wales issued more than 400 such in 2020 and expect the number to increase, while the recording of stalking crimes has also risen.

The Joint Victims leads for the APCC, Donna Jones and Sophie Linden, say they will be "monitoring the progress of this super complaint closely" and will consider any recommendations that arise as a result.

They added: "This complaint raises some significant and deeply concerning issues with the way police are identifying, investigating, and responding to stalking.

"System-wide improvements must be made if we are to ensure that we are effectively safeguarding vulnerable victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

Sussex PCC Katy Bourne, who is also the APCC's National Stalking Lead, believes the offence is still considered a "Cinderella crime for some forces".

"It is disappointing that, after ten years of stalking legislation, the law and all the tools available to police are not being used consistently or to their fullest extent," she added.

Acknowledging that there are pockets of good practice across the forces, the PCC warned that "victims of stalking often face a postcode lottery as to whether they will be listened to and protected".

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