At the start of National Stalking Awareness Week, WE launch our campaign for tougher measures and better awareness of the crime of stalking
Today, the Women’s Equality Party and Paladin are calling for immediate action to bring the law on stalking into full effect and reduce the risk to women.
"One in five women will suffer stalking in their lifetime, which is why WE are calling for a new, joined-up approach to stop this crime," says party leader and London Mayoral candidate Sophie Walker. "Today WE launch our campaign to set up ring-fenced funding for stalking support services, specialist-led training for criminal justice professionals, perpetrator treatment and a register for serial stalkers."
In today's Observer, Lily Allen bravely tells of her seven-year ordeal with a stranger-stalker and the insidious and terrifying nature of this crime. "WE are working with Lily Allen and Paladin - the national stalking advocacy service - to campaign for prevention, protection and justice for the thousands of women that are stalked every year," says Walker.
WE are calling for people to share Lily's story, and their own, on social media with the hashtags #jointhedots #joinWE.
"As Lily's story illustrates, the justice system still does not fully understand stalking behaviours and risks," says Walker. "Lily carefully reported every single incident and collected evidence, but the police failed to join up the dots. WE understand that tackling stalking requires a joined-up approach and by joining us, you will help us push this to the top of the political agenda."
As many as 700,000 women experience stalking every year. "As with many other forms of violence, these are not isolated incidents but a structural violence perpetrated against women" says Walker. "As we have seen with Lily's case, the police minimised her experience and denied Lily the support she deserved, failing to effectively manage the risk to her and her family, and ultimately weakening the case against the perpetrator."
Founder and Director of Paladin Laura Richards, says: "One of the key challenges with stalking is that, taken in isolation, behaviours might seem unremarkable. However, in particular circumstances and with repetition, they take on a more sinister meaning."
"This is why it is so important to understand the history and totality of what has been happening, rather than just the ‘incident’ reported. Stalkers steal lives and take lives - early identification, assessment and management is crucial in stalking cases."
Paladin have set up an online petition calling for a stalkers register, similar to the sex offenders register.
To find out more or seek support, visit the National Stalking Helpline.
To find out more about our campaign to end the crime of stalking, visit our Join the Dots page.
Photograph © Karen Robinson for the Observer
Published April 16, 2016