Only 1.4% of reports of stalking to UK police ended in the stalker being convicted in year ending March 2022, a survey conducted by stalking charity the Suzy Lamplugh Trust revealed.
This is despite the stalking law having been introduced on 25th November 2012, as an amendment to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which made stalking a specific offence.
There were more than 1,000 female victims of stalking in the five-month period from October 2021 to March 2022, according to estimated figures published by the Office of National Statistics Crime Survey for England and Wales.
The hope is that by more victims coming forward to share their stories, it will raise awareness of the need for these cases to be taken seriously with immediate action.
Self-employed Surrey businesswoman Shelly first reported her stalker experience to the police over Christmas in 2021.
It was at this point that Shelly began to confide in family members about what was going on and her concerns that she was being stalked.
Explaining the mental trauma that goes with telling family and friends about being stalked, she highlighted that stalkers aim to gaslight their victims.
This can send victims into such a depressed state that even the people closest to them often don’t realise just how bad the situation is until it is too late.
Shelly added: “They want you to basically have a breakdown.
“The objective of the stalker is fear and intimidation and to make you want to commit suicide, to effectively take you out of the game.”
Photo credit: Shelly (stalking victim)
Following her initial contact with the Met Police a report was filed, but nothing further was done.
The stalking behaviour continued into the new year and Shelly felt compelled to follow it up with the police.
Recalling her experience of phoning the police hotline number 101, she said: “The hours I’ve spent on 101 trying to get through to someone was unbelievable.
“I was kept on hold for over four hours due to staff shortages.”
After finally getting through to someone, Shelly was told that her case was incorrectly reported and closed, so a new case file would have to be re-opened under the same crime reference number.
A trainee officer, just two weeks into the job, was then assigned to Shelly’s case.
She kept in contact with Shelly via email and an official statement was prepared at that point.
Core 20+ Co-ordinator at the Croydon BME Forum (former employee of Victim Support), Lisa Brodrick, believes the way in which stalking is categorised by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is fundamentally flawed.
Brodrick said: “A lot of women are not given the relevant information on personal safety when they do encounter the police due to concerns being dismissed as low-level crime when effectively it isn’t.
“Stalking will often get flagged as harassment rather than domestic violence because they are not in an intimate relationship with the stalker, for example being followed home repeatedly from a bus stop.”
In May 2022, five months after the initial contact with the Met Police, Shelly’s stalker was brought in for questioning under caution and the case continues.
The Met Police have since provided Shelly with a verbal apology for the way that her case was initially handled.
As is often the case with victims of stalking, many different aspects of their lives are affected whether it’s psychological, physical, or financial.
Shelly believes that it’s vital this message is understood by officers in the Met Police who are dealing with these cases.
She explained how beneficial therapy and online stalking support groups have been in aiding her recovery from this ordeal.
Shelly now uses her own experience to help empower other stalking victims.
Labour Councillor for St. Martins, Lambeth, Olga FitzRoy, expressed her concern for the current state of policing in London.
She added: “Confidence in the Met Police is at an all-time low from women and people of colour.
“There is hardly anyone in London who feels like they are represented by the police.
“On top of that they are completely under-resourced, so even with the best will in the world they are unable to actually police the community effectively.”
There are currently two Police Constables and one PCSO serving the ward of St. Martin’s, Lambeth.
Official statistics published from the Mayor of London’s department for Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), in Quarter 3 2022-23, show levels of trust and confidence in the Met Police have declined in the South London Boroughs of Croydon, Lambeth and Lewisham.
Speaking at the Victims Summit in March 2023, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a new £3 million a year investment package to enhance and expand the support that the Met Police offers victims of crime in London.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “The Met works in partnership with MOPAC, the Probation Service, NHS and the stalking advocacy service the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, to oversee London’s Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (STAC).
“Police officers, alongside mental health specialists, probation officers and victim advocates are based at the centre.
“They offer expert advice to local officers in relation to stalking allegations, identifying risks, and assisting with management plans to protect the victim and public from the suspect.
“We have doubled the police contingent of STAC with further plans for growth.”
To find out more information about the Suzy Lamplugh Trust visit www.suzylamplugh.org or phone the National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300.