March 15, 2021 has marked a significant step towards better protection for victims of some of the most dangerous domestic abusers and stalkers.
Amendment 73 to the Domestic Abuse Bill, tabled by Baroness Jan Royall in the House of Lords, has been passed by 327 votes to 232. It requires the Government to provide a comprehensive perpetrator strategy for domestic abusers and stalkers.
The Bill will now return to the Commons to be agreed upon by our MPs.
Why do we need Amendment 73?
Before he met Alice, Trimaan Dhillon had received a Restraining Order following an assault towards an ex-girlfriend. During the investigation of Alice’s murder, other former partners came forward to reveal a clear previous history of stalking and coercive control. The amendment calls for serial perpetrators of domestic abuse and serial stalkers to be included on the Violent and Sex Offenders’ Register (VISOR).
The amendment also calls for such perpetrators to be supervised, monitored and managed under the multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA). The framework already exists: the difference is that there would now be a statutory duty to deal with those serial offenders who are also often the most dangerous, rather than merely placing a reliance upon best practice, which up to now has been patchy at best. In Alice’s case, if the stalking following her break-up had been recognised and crimed as such, and these measures had been in place, then a statutory referral to MAPPA would have triggered appropriate monitoring and intervention to ensure the best possible risk management.
But this is not a ‘done deal’. We now need this Amendment to be passed when the Bill returns to the Commons. Public support could make a huge difference.
***Please write to your MP to encourage them to support the amendment when it returns to the Commons.***
But we also need more...
Important as Amendment 73 is, we will need to go further in the future. Restraining Order breaches (as had happened in Alice’s case) would not result in someone being included in the VISOR register; we need our databases to flag *all* previous behaviours, to have them recognised for the serious crimes they are, and to make sure the police can easily ‘join the dots’ if the person reoffends.
For measures like this to work, society also needs educating—so that victims approach the police far sooner than most currently do—and a criminal justice system that reacts in the right way when this happens. The Alice Ruggles Trust is focused on helping our younger generation to identify stalking and seek support for themselves or others. That is why we developed the PSHE Relationship Safety resource for 14- to 16-year-olds that is being delivered into schools across the country, why we are offering training to those who work with young people through our SAfEE project, and why we are working with Girlguiding and other youth organisations to raise awareness of the seriousness of stalking.
The other side of the coin is that we need comprehensive training for all criminal justice professionals, which is why our Trust also provides professional development and training for police, CPS and judiciary as well as social and healthcare professionals.
Ways to help!
There are also many ways in which you can help the Alice Ruggles Trust in our work. You could explore our website and spread the word about what you’ve learned and what we are doing. If you are a young person yourself you could influence what we do directly by joining our youth ambassadors (please contact us if you are interested). If you are a professional working with young people you could consider taking one of our SAfEE courses so that you are qualified to recognise stalking and offer the best advice. Or, whoever you are, you could help us raise funds by entering our 24 challenge.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Since 2017, the Alice Ruggles Trust has supported Paladin’s campaign to introduce a register that would enable police to pro-actively identify, track, monitor and manage stalkers. Broadly’s UnFollowMe campaign featured a video about Alice which has been seen by more than a million young people. Please consider signing Paladin’s petition.