Stalking

2. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice – in the Senedd at on 22 May 2024.

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Photo of Jane Dodds Jane Dodds Liberal Democrat

(Translated)

7. Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the Welsh Government's strategy to address the issue of stalking? OQ61171

Photo of Lesley Griffiths Lesley Griffiths Labour 2:57, 22 May 2024

Our 'Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence: strategy 2022 to 2026' prioritises tackling all forms of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Our commitment to tackling stalking and harassment is being delivered through our VAWDASV blueprint, which includes work streams focused on tackling perpetration and gender-based harassment in all public spaces.

Photo of Jane Dodds Jane Dodds Liberal Democrat 2:58, 22 May 2024

(Translated)

Thank you for that response.

Photo of Jane Dodds Jane Dodds Liberal Democrat

Cabinet Secretary, while stalking protection orders were introduced as a vital tool to safeguard victims of this awful crime, the stark reality is that these orders remain alarmingly underutilised across Wales. Recent freedom of information requests revealed alarming statistics from three Welsh police forces: over the past two years, these forces recorded over 13,000 incidents of stalking, but, during the same period, they issued only 12 stalking protection orders combined. Dyfed-Powys Police did not respond and weren't able to provide any data. The reasons for this failure are, of course, multifaceted, but the lack of training and understanding among our law enforcement officers cannot be ignored. According to a 2021 report from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, 50 per cent of stalking advocates said police 'hardly ever' or 'never' consider a stalking protection order without being prompted. This situation cannot continue. I'd like to ask you, Cabinet Secretary, whether you would consider taking this issue forward and championing multi-agency stalking intervention programmes, which is something that's advocated by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and other partners, in order to address this rising issue of stalking. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Photo of Lesley Griffiths Lesley Griffiths Labour 2:59, 22 May 2024

Diolch. I am aware of the report that the Member refers to of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and the recommendations within that report to tackle stalking. You'll be very well aware that we work very closely with our police colleagues. The issues, I think, raised in the report predominantly are not devolved, and it's for the UK Government to respond to these recommendations, but I was really pleased to learn that both north Wales and Dyfed-Powys police forces have recently recruited a domestic abuse stalking perpetrator co-ordinator to focus on the risks posed by perpetrators, taking a really proactive approach in this area. So, what that will do is investigate the effective use of stalking protection orders and have a look at a multidisciplinary response to stalking. So, it's something I will certainly raise with the PCCs when I meet them—I think it's the week after next. Also in north Wales, the force has commenced a new multi-agency stalking panel. That includes the police, victim services, probation and a forensic psychologist. So, I'll certainly be very interested to see how that plays out.

Photo of Russell George Russell George Conservative 3:01, 22 May 2024

Recently, Cabinet Secretary, I was made aware of the acronym FOUR—fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated. I wasn't aware of that previously. I wonder, Cabinet Secretary, given what you said in response to Jane Dodds, what more you can say about any potential communication campaign that the Welsh Government can run in order to encourage people, if there are signs of stalking, to encourage them so that they feel able to contact the police and be aware of those signs?

Photo of Lesley Griffiths Lesley Griffiths Labour

I wasn't aware of that group, either. I think I wrote it all down correctly, but I will certainly have a look at that. Following my meeting with the four new—well, two new, two re-elected—PCCs, I'll certainly—. This is an area that I'm very keen to look at in relation to stalking. Obviously the Live Fear Free helpline could be used at the current time, because I'm not aware of any plans to have a specific line around stalking, but you'll be very aware of Live Fear Free. That's a free 24/7 service for everyone in this space, and I would encourage people to use that, or indeed ring the police, at the current time. 

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru 3:02, 22 May 2024

(Translated)

Finally, question 8, Rhys ab Owen.