A petition calling for more help for stalking victims is now headed to parliament
The petition, spearheaded by the parents of a stalking victim, calls for greater support to prevent victims of stalking from coming to harm.
A petition calling for more funding to support victims of stalking has amassed over 100,000 signatures, and will now be debated in parliament.
The Gracie’s Law campaign – which is being spearheaded by the parents of a woman thought to have been killed by a former colleague who had been stalking her – is calling for more funding for “stalking advocates” to support victims and ensure the police are able to investigate reports of stalking more thoroughly.
There are hopes that such a move could stop stalking victims from coming to harm, and prevent “unnecessary distress and suffering” for victims and their families.
23-year-old Gracie Spinks was found fatally injured in a field in Duckmanton, Derbyshire, in June last year. It is thought Michael Sellers, 35, a colleague of Spinks’ who was found dead nearby shortly afterwards, stabbed her to death.
Spinks had told Derbyshire Police in February that Sellers, from Sheffield, was stalking her. The force is currently under investigation by the police watchdog after it referred itself because of its contact with Spinks prior to her death.
In November, it was revealed that two officers had been served with misconduct notices over their handling of Spinks’ stalking complaint.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this week, Spinks’ father Richard said that getting more than 100,000 signatures was “one hurdle over” and that the next stage would be getting ready for the debate to be read in parliament – something that happens once a petition has surpassed the 100,000 milestone.
“We’d like more funding for individual constabularies, it’s a bit of a postcode lottery really,” he explained. “The training that officers get in each constabulary needs to be consistent across the board. Gracie was let down by certain individuals because procedures weren’t followed and boxes ticked.”
Spinks’ mother Alison added that the current measures in place to tackle stalking were not working: “We just didn’t realise how big a problem stalking was until this happened to Gracie. It’s huge, it’s absolutely massive.”
She concluded: “We’re going to personally present the petition to parliament, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.”
The petition was originally set up by nurse Jackie Barnett-Wheatcroft, who was stalked as a teenager. She also set up the charity Stalking Victims UK. “I would like a separate pot for stalking – for investigations, for the CPS, for the courts – in order to prioritise stalking cases,” she told the BBC.
In a response to the petition published last August, the government said it was “committed to protecting and supporting victims of stalking and is determined to do everything it can to stop perpetrators at the earliest opportunity.”
It continued: “To help ensure victims and survivors are supported, the Home Office also part-funds the National Stalking Helpline, run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and has recently tripled its funding, such that it will now provide up to £155,000 this year.
“The additional funding will, amongst other things, enable the Trust to expand its advocacy service outside London.”
To sign the petition and show your support for Gracie’s Law, click here.
Victim Support is an independent charity that provides practical and emotional support to victims of all crimes, including stalking and harassment. For help and information, you can contact the charity’s free 24/7 Supportline number on 0808 16 89 111 or seek support via the website: victimsupport.org.uk.
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