Part of Stalking Protection Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:40 am on 23rd November 2018.

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Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Conservative, Walsall North 11:40 am, 23rd November 2018

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Luke Graham. Although this Bill does not apply to Scotland, it is great to see representation for Scotland in the debate—and eloquent representation it was, too.

It is a pleasure to join other Members in supporting my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston. Sometimes, I feel, we do not agree on other subjects, so it is excellent to be able to contribute to a debate in which we are perfectly aligned, the alignment being not just on our side of the Chamber but on both sides.

We have heard some excellent legal minds give their insightful view on this Bill, so I want to adopt a slightly different approach and use the latitude that is sometimes afforded to us on Fridays to give a public information broadcast. First, anybody who is at risk of stalking, experiences stalking or has family members who are being stalked should contact the national stalking helpline on 0808 802 0300. That line is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. The interesting thing about it is that it is a freephone number from landlines, but it also free from a number of mobile service providers. Also, the number will not show up on someone’s phone bill if they are phoning from a BT line, which might be important for some people who are concerned about stalking and do not want information to be shown on their telephone bill.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is a great source of information on stalking. Let just briefly remember why the trust was set up. Suzy Lamplugh was 25 years old in 1986 when she disappeared, and her parents, Paul and Diana, set up the trust to provide incredible support to people who are victims of the type of terrible tragedy that they have experienced and to others who are victims of stalking. The trust receives money from the tampon tax fund, from which the Government contribute approximately £15 million a year, using money taken from VAT on sanitary products to support organisations that provide support for disadvantaged women. The trust is one of a number of organisations that that supports. It is a fantastic charity. It was very tragically in the news most recently because police excavated the site of John Cannan’s mother’s house to try to finally find evidence to attribute the crime to him.

The trust is not the only charity that provides support in this field. In preparation for this debate, I also came across the Hollie Gazzard Trust. Last night, I tried to download the Hollie Guard app, which I thought I might be able to utilise to offer some feedback to the House on its efficacy or otherwise. Unfortunately, it is necessary to register to use the app and I am still awaiting notification that I can be registered as a user. However, I believe that it provides a valuable tool. If someone is walking home and feels that they might be vulnerable, the app enables them to register their start and final destination. It will track their progress and, if they do not arrive at that destination within a prescribed time, it can alert people they have predetermined from the contacts in their phone. It can also turn the phone into an alarm so that it gives out a high-pitched noise and the torch comes on as well to attract attention.