Trust Activities

Professional training and best practice

Police

In the summer of 2017, several members of the newly-created Alice Ruggles Trust attended a day-conference in London organised by Paladin, “Raising the Bar: Best Practice in Stalking Cases”, which was aimed at Police Officers dealing with stalking offences. Clive, Alice’s father, presented Alice’s story and spoke about what we would like to see change. Since then, the Trust has worked with several English and Welsh police forces who have been developing and delivering new training on stalking and harassment, vulnerability, and domestic abuse. These include Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Dyfed-Powys, Leicestershire, South Wales, Surrey, Sussex and the Metropolitan Police (participation in strategic planning and/or training sessions), and Essex, Lincolnshire, Northumbria, Warwickshire and West Mercia, and West Midlands Police (providing materials for training packages). It has also participated in professional development days run by the College of Policing. In January 2019 Alice’s mother Sue spoke at a meeting of the national network of stalking SPOCs at an event organised by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). A video recorded by Sue and Clive in December 2017 for Northumbria police was used as part of an on-line training package delivered to all front-line officers in the early part of 2018 covering understanding of existing stalking legislation, assessment of risk, investigative and tactical options, and the lessons to be learned from Alice’s case. It has also been shared with a number of other forces.

Crown Prosecution Service

The Trust was invited to speak at a CPS Senior Managers’ conference (York, November 2017) about what happened to Alice. Following this, the Director of Public Prosecutions assured us that Alice’s story had had a significant impact, with many CPS managers planning actions to ensure that both police colleagues and CPS staff in their areas were aware of the issues around stalking and would work to develop strong cases which allow the court to take the right action. In May 2018 the CPS, together with the NPCC, released a new Protocol on the appropriate handling of stalking or harassment offences, as part of a package of measures to improve the way that the criminal justice system deals with stalking and harassment. The Trust understands that the protocol was influenced by Alice's case, and was invited to present Alice's story at a new protocol masterclass held in London a few days prior to its release. We have also participated in a quality analysis meeting following the completion of mandatory training in the new protocol for all CPS prosecutors in the East Midlands.

Judiciary

The Trust participated in a Continuing Professional Development day in November 2018 in Middle Temple Hall, London, relating Alice’s story and the lessons to be learned to an audience of judges and barristers practicing in criminal, family and civil law.

Other professional engagement

Representatives of the Trust have delivered invited presentations at several conferences aimed at mixed audiences of professional practitioners ranging from criminal justice system to health professionals and probation officers and prison psychologists. During 2018 these included a “Best practice in stalking cases” conference in London in April to mark the beginning of Stalking Awareness Week 2018, a stalking conference in Leicester in August aimed primarily at probation officers and prison psychologists, and a conference on domestic violence and abuse held in Manchester in November.

Home Office

Each police force is required to have a Crime Registrar (FCR) who, together with their teams, is responsible for driving improvements in the recording of crime. The Home Office National Crime Registrar had identified stalking and harassment as an important area where improvement was needed, and invited the Alice Ruggles Trust, along with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and representatives of the National Police Chiefs’ Council portfolio for Stalking and Harassment, to speak at a session on the subject at the annual Force Crime Registrars’ conference held in March 2018. The Trust understands that a significant change has now been made to FCR guidelines whereby if an offence such as criminal damage or assault involves some element of stalking or harassment then police are now expected to record both: in the past it was likely that only the direct offence would have been reported. Even without this new development, new Home Offices figures released in 2018 show that the number of stalking offences reported has trebled nationally and increased by a factor of almost 10 in the north-east.

Military

During June 2017, Mike Thaibsyah gave a number of presentations on behalf of the Trust to British Army units based in Germany on the signs and dangers of stalking and coercive control, including one to an audience of Heads of agencies, and to welfare, medical, military police, education and social services professionals who are already (or may inadvertently be) involved in dealing with Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour-Based Violence (DASH) assessments. The presentations were delivered in conjunction with Lisa Horder, the lead on safeguarding, domestic abuse and the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) in British Forces Germany (BFG), to raise awareness and give basic training on recognising the signs of stalking, harassment, controlling and coercive behaviour. Mike returned to Germany in March 2018 to present two further talks to the Royal Military Police on stalking as part of their DASH training. These RMP soldiers and officers deal with DASH cases daily in BFG.

Campaigning

Stalking Protection Bill

The Trust participated in efforts to motivate MPs to support the Stalking Protection Bill at its second reading in January 2018, and conducted its own social media campaign. Representatives of the Trust attended a meeting in Parliament in October 2017 chaired by Dr Sarah Wollaston MP to discuss Stalking Protection Orders ahead of the second reading, and a round table in January 2018 organised by Sarah Wollaston and Victoria Atkins (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability). In the various debates, Neil O'Brien (MP for Harborough), Sarah Wollaston and Victoria Atkins all made reference to Alice and the Trust in their speeches. When the Bill completed its passage through the House of Commons, we attended a further round-table meeting with Baroness Bertin who led the Bill through the House of Lords. We are delighted that in March 2019 the Bill attained Royal Assent and has become Law. Or our efforts will now be focused on ensuring that if a Stalking Protection Order is breached, which is a criminal offence, this will result in immediate arrest.

Serial Perpetrator register

The Trust continues ot lend its support to a campaign led by Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service to introduce a register that would enable police to pro-actively identify, track, monitor and manage stalkers. Such a register would also allow front-line police assessing the seriousness of a call from a victim to be immediately alerted to previous incidents involving the perpetrator that would indicate a dangerous pattern of behaviour. We participated in various media interviews around the time that a Paladin petition calling for the introduction of such a register was presented to the Prime Minister in October 2017, and again in October 2018 when the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee backed the introduction of a stalkers’ register as part of its recommendations on domestic abuse and violence against women and girls. We have also co-operated with Broadly UK, a digital platform focusing on women’s issues, in the production of a short video telling Alice’s story that is being circulated on social media as part of their “UnFollowMe” campaign and has already been watched by over a million young people.

Domestic Abuse Bill

In a debate on domestic violence and abuse in the House of Lords in July 2017, Baroness Jan Royall spoke about what happened to Alice and quoted Clive saying he believed Alice’s fear was dismissed by the police owing to her polite and respectful demeanour. She said there was no consistency in how the calls were handled and that to be asked “Well, what do you think we should do about it?” is “appalling, and there is no excuse”. Along with a number of other victims’ relatives and charities, Sue and Clive attended a Home Office workshop in April 2018 seeking feedback on the prevention of domestic abuse and the needs of families following homicides, in relation to a Government consultation on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill. The meeting was attended by both Home Office and Ministry of Justice officials. The Trust also submitted a written response to the government consultation.

Raising awareness and public engagement

Young people

During 2018 the Trust began working to raise awareness among 14–18-year-olds about coercive behaviour and stalking through talks at secondary schools and among Duke of Edinburgh award-scheme groups. It also commenced a major project with the PSHE Association to produce quality-assured, accredited teaching materials and lesson plans on stalking and coercive behaviour for Key Stage 4 (14- to 16-year-olds) that could be used by teachers in their own schools. The Alice Ruggles Trust Relationship Safety Resource is now freely available to secondary teachers throughout the UK as part of the new statutory RSE strand of PSHE education. A short video interview with Alice’s parents Sue and Clive and brother Nick was recorded in July 2018 by Broadly UK, a digital platform focusing on women’s issues, and distributed on social media as part of their “UnFollowMe” campaign together with Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service. This aims to raise awareness of the dangers of domestic abuse and stalking among young people and has had over a million viewings. The Trust has also provided input to a government consultation on relationship and sexual education in schools.

Documentaries

Although focusing almost exclusively on the police investigation following Alice’s murder, the TV documentary “An Hour to Catch a Killer”, broadcast on ITV in October 2017, generated a good deal of media interest in Alice’s story and the lessons to be learned. Two further documentaries—“Murdered by my stalker”, screened on 5-STAR TV in July 2018, and one in the “Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories” series, screened on ITV in January 2019—tell the whole story of what happened to Alice and help raise awareness of the dangers of stalking and coercive control. These dangers were also highlighted in Emma Casson’s award-winning 3-part radio documentary “It’s not your Fault”, broadcast and discussed on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 4 Extra in July 2018 and available indefinitely as a podcast. Members of the Ruggles family and other representatives of the Trust are involved in the planning and production of further documentaries targeting different audiences.

Interviews

Members of Alice’s family and other representatives of the Trust have given numerous press, television and radio interviews to tell Alice's story and raise general awareness of the dangers of stalking, including on BBC and ITV national and local news, on programmes such as ITV’s Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast and BBC2's Victoria Derbyshire Show, and in features and articles in the Guardian, Sun, Daily Mail, Newcastle Chronicle and a range of other UK national and local newspapers. These have mostly been in association with specific events and campaigns such as the screening of the ITV documentary “An Hour to Catch a Killer” in October 2017; the autumn 2017 campaign for a Serial Perpetrator register; the campaign to support the Stalking Protection Bill through parliament during 2018 and early 2019; and the publication of the Domestic Homicide Review into Alice’s death in March 2019. A 70-minute “Real Crime Profile” podcast released in April 2018 in which Clive speaks to Laura Richards, founder of Paladin, and her colleagues in the United States about Alice’s story and the lessons to be learned, has helped propagate the message in the USA.

Trust stall and leaflets

The Trust has produced an “Are you being stalked?” leaflet carrying simple messages to help make people at large much more aware of the dangers of stalking and the need to contact the police or other agencies at a much earlier stage. We have also produced a charity Information leaflet and banners for displays at fundraising events, and set up a manned stall at major fundraising events such as (during 2018) the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Nationals sporting event in Sheffield in February, a Family Fun Day held in Gateshead in June, and the second Alice Ruggles memorial fencing competition held in Leicester in December.

Social media

Our social media team, Emma Casson, Gen Crozier, Lizzie Smith and Megan Stewart, help promote the Trust’s goals and activities on Facebook and Twitter. A selection of the main messages from the “Are you being stalked?” leaflet were released on social media on each day of Stalking awareness week in April 2018.

National Stalking Consortium

The Alice Ruggles Trust is a member of the National Stalking Consortium, a collaboration of organisations working in stalking whose overall aim is to improve support to victims of stalking throughout the UK, and attends regular consortium meetings.