Stalking: New Group Offers Hope For Victims

An advocacy service says improved restraining orders would help the 120,000 people who are victims of stalking each year.

1:28pm UK, Thursday 11 July 2013

Many of the mostly women victims are reluctant to call the police

A support organisation for the victims of stalking has called for more effective restraining orders at its launch in the Houses of Parliament.

Paladin, the UK's first stalking advocacy service, aims to develop a co-ordinated community response to keep victims and their children safe.

Harry Fletcher, the organisation's co-director, said much more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

"Restraining orders must be strengthened and there needs to be a thorough review of the family courts to prevent perpetrators from making vexatious applications for contact with their children when there is no hope of it being granted," he said.

The group has also called for improved training for criminal justice professionals on the issue.

A survey of stalking victims found 65% who contacted the police said they were dissatisfied with the response and nearly 80% of victims said the CPS

was not involved in their case, and of those that did, over three-quarters were not satisfied with the CPS response, according to Paladin.

Laura Richards co-director with stalking victim Alison Hewitt

Laura Richards, Paladin's other director and author of The Victim's Voice, told Sky News: "A lot of people use the term "stalking" as a joke.

"But it's very similar to animals that hunt.

"It's about poaching, prowling, following - it's intrusive behaviour that engenders fear in another person - in other words, hunting humans."

Alison Hewitt, who is attending the launch at the House of Commons, was herself a victim.

"I was stalked by an ex-partner who just wouldn't accept that the relationship was over," she told Sky News.

"It started with the usual - lots of love letters, telephone calls, texts and emails and then it escalated to extreme violence which ended up with him setting fire to my parents' home.

"They had to be airlifted to a place of safety.

"And, when he was caught in the hospital grounds where I was due to work, they found a van with weapons there.

"So I'm very lucky to be alive."

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