Amendment 148A

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 26 February 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Newlove Baroness Newlove Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 6:15, 26 February 2024

My Lords, I support these amendments, and I am so glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, is back where she belongs, speaking on a topic that she is so passionate about.

Laura Richards has been mentioned by many speakers, and social media has a good way of reacting: I have her on Instagram as we are speaking, to give me some pointers, even though she is in California. Laura Richards is the expert on all this, and her patience to fight for victims over the years is commendable. She said she knows there is going to be change and she keeps doing it for victims—I admire this lady.

In the year ending March 2022, only 1.4% of reports to police about stalking ended with the stalker being convicted. That says a lot about how seriously stalking is taken by the very agencies that are supposed to protect victims. Most stalkers never see the inside of a prison cell; instead, they receive fines or community or suspended sentences, as has previously been spoken about. Really, for me, it is about listening to the human side of all these cases, and that is what we must never forget. It is not just about lessons learned or guidance. These are not items we pick up from supermarket shelves; these are human lives—people who have been brutally murdered, after several years of absolute hell, by someone who has done it on more than one occasion.

I really want to understand why the Government will not look at this register seriously. I spoke in the Domestic Abuse Bill when that came through. This has to be the end of it all. Instead of guidance, we must have proper risk management of stalkers and domestic abusers because, at the moment, it is virtually non-existent for convicted, or unconvicted, men who pose such a huge risk to women and children—now more than ever, we need to make sure that they feel safe and listened to. These are psychopathic people who do horrendous crimes to humans, and families have to pick up the pieces.

I am concerned about Zoe Dronfield, and I have picked up on certain things that my friend, the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, has mentioned. I will take that offline, because I sympathise with not having any control. As somebody who is still going through the criminal justice and parole system, I am very interested in the next stage of the Bill, which is about parole, and what it does and does not do. The victim has no control, or right to know what the offender is doing. We cannot find out what is going on, but the offender knows exactly where the victim is, because of exclusion zones and everything else. I do not speak for anyone else but as a victim who is watching out, for my three daughters, for offenders who are going to be released. When we are talking about stalking laws, this is important, because having no control more or less means that the victim has to shape their life around safety, whereas the system should protect victims more than ever.