Inquiry calls for stalking to be crime

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A new offence of stalking should be brought in immediately to stop harassment and intimidation turning to murder, an independent inquiry has concluded.

But MPs and peers from all parties warned that a new law alone would not be enough to protect victims and “fundamental reform” of the system was needed.

The independent Parliamentary Inquiry into Stalking Law Reform called for key changes to be made to training, risk assessments and the sentencing of stalkers in the Government’s review of harassment legislation.

It comes after a man who stalked his ex-girlfriend on Facebook before stabbing her to death was jailed for life with a minimum term of 21 years. Clifford Mills, 49, attacked Lorna Smith after inviting her to his flat in Brixton, south London, in February last year.

Another stalking victim, Claire Waxman, 35, was awarded £3,500 damages last week after the High Court ruled the state failed to protect her when charges against her stalker were dropped.

Ms Waxman, who runs a business in north west London, complained of “serious and persistent” harassment over eight years by television producer Elliot Fogel.

The inquiry’s 30 recommendations also called for a stalker’s previous offences to be taken into account by judges and for restrictions to be placed on offenders’ use of phones, IT and letters once they were behind bars.

A victims’ advocacy scheme should also be set up to help support stalking victims through the criminal justice system, it said.

Inquiry chairman Elfyn Llwyd said current legislation was “clearly not doing enough to protect victims” and a holistic approach by the Government was needed.

Laura Richards, of Protection Against Stalking and an adviser to the inquiry, said: “It is time for change and to recognise the physical and psychological harm and terror that stalking causes. This is about murder prevention.”