Most victims of stalking who turn to the criminal justice system for protection say it is failing them, a survey reveals.
Two-thirds of victims said the police and Crown Prosecution Service did not take their complaints seriously enough, with offenders not being charged in nearly nine out of 10 alleged cases.
In a survey of 140 victims conducted by the charity Protection Against Stalking (PAS), it was discovered that “low level” stalking offences were dealt with too leniently and could escalate into more serious offences, including murder.
As a result, charities have been lobbying parliament to get the laws changed and for stalking to become a criminal offence. The report of the inquiry into stalking law reform, together with 30 recommendations and a draft parliamentary Bill was launched in the House of Lords on 7th February. The report calls for fundamental changes to training, risk assessment of victims and treatment and sentencing of offenders.
David Cameron has taken up the cause championing changes to existing laws. The proposed changes would create one stalking offence that was triable only by magistrates - with a maximum sentence of six months. In more serious cases, a second offence could attract heavier punishments in crown court, but only if the prosecution could show the victim suffered “fear of violence”. So far, campaigners say that this is not sufficient.
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