The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), together with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), have released a new Protocol on the appropriate handling of stalking or harassment offences. This is part of a package of measures to improve the way that the criminal justice system deals with stalking and harassment. The Alice Ruggles Trust understands that the protocol has been influenced by Alice's case.
The new measures aim to ensure that the criminal justice system identifies patterns of behaviour that amount to stalking or harassment for what they are, rather than looking at incidents in isolation. Furthermore, police and prosecutors, when presented with a case of stalking or harassment, must specifically consider the possibility of stalking. In stalking cases, appropriate risk screening and management must be put in place for both complainants and suspects. In order to determine whether the suspect could assault, harm or even kill the victim, even if the victim does not themselves fear this, complainants must be asked if they have altered their behaviour (even in subtle ways) in response to the alleged behaviour or activities of the suspect. Police Information Notices (PINs) should never be used in stalking cases.
Updated CPS training on stalking and harassment cases is to be undertaken by all prosecutors over the coming months. Police also need to be equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills to effectively identify and handle cases of stalking or harassment and to ensure that victims and witnesses are appropriately and safely supported through the prosecution process.
The Alice Ruggles Trust very much welcomes these measures, in the expectation that they will help ensure that victims of stalking are identified and better protected from the moment that they first contact the police.