Amendment 292N

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Committee (11th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 24th November 2021.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour 6:15 pm, 24th November 2021

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, has eloquently and bravely described on a number of occasions and brought home to us just how important it is to tackle stalking in an effective way. I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove, who has been an inspiration during our discussions on these issues.

I will make just two points to emphasise the excellent speech by the noble Lord, Lord Russell. First, he mentioned the huge number of women who are victims of stalking and the disgracefully low number of prosecutions. The problem is not just the inconsistencies to which he and HM Inspectorate have referred. It is also clear that in too many police forces stalking is seen as a low-level nuisance behaviour issue rather than the serious crime it often is.

We know that a number of stalking perpetrators who potentially pose the highest risk to victims would not meet the threshold for the assessment and management of risk for a relevant domestic abuse or stalking perpetrator, as proposed under the MAPPA model. This is a big problem. As the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which does so much fantastic work in this area, has identified, stalking is often not recognised as a crime. The level of risk to a victim is therefore inadequately identified and addressed, and this has the potential to put many lives in serious danger.

I refer the Minister to Dr Jane Monckton Smith’s 2017 study of 358 homicides, all of which involved a female victim and a male perpetrator. It revealed stalking behaviour as an antecedent to femicide in 94% of those cases. That demonstrates why it is so important to work on prevention and action in relation to stalking.

The noble Baroness responded at great length to our previous debate in Committee, setting out the proposals and the actions her department is taking. As the noble Lord, Lord Russell, said, in the end they do not really amount to a cohesive strategy that will actually start to take this seriously. I hope the Minister will perhaps agree to reflect on this between now and Report to see whether we can take this any further.