APCC Response to HMIC & HMCPSI Report on Stalking
Responding to the HMIC and HMCPSI Report – ‘Living in fear – the police and CPS response to harassment and stalking’, APCC Chair and Victims Lead Dame Vera Baird QC said:
“This report highlights some significant current issues with the way that the police and the CPS are dealing with harassment and stalking.
“In particular there is concern over the continued police failure properly to identify and record dangerous stalking offences. This is clearly reflected in the low number of offences recorded compared with harassment, which is more short-term, requiring only a course of conduct causing alarm or distress. Although some acts of stalking appear innocuous, such as sending flowers or cards, it is imperative that police recognise that can be part of a dangerously obsessive pattern of behaviour which can be both long lasting and very harmful.
“HMIC point to a lack of clarity about the definition of stalking so that protective stalking-specific powers – for example the power to search premises and seize evidence – are not used. Under recording stalking also makes it difficult for Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that the most appropriate victims services are in place.
“Although HMIC rightly recommend the abolition of Police Information Notices which are frequently used inappropriately and the speedy introduction of Stalking Protection Orders, the effectiveness of new measures will still depend on the police being able to better identify and record the crimes.
“The importance of a proper risk assessment should never be overlooked. Whilst often the harmful significance of apparently minor conduct is clearer to the victim than to officers, some victims will play down their concerns, because they themselves are not experts in the dynamics of stalking. Police should take the views of the victim seriously in particular when they regard the behaviour as more serious than the officer, but they should form their own professional view where a victim may be under estimating danger.
“There are a number of recommendations to the police, the College of Policing and the CPS and Police and Crime Commissioners will want to continue working with all agencies across the policing landscape to address the concerns highlighted in this report and provide the service the victims of harassment and stalking deserve.”