Gloucester and Cheltenham MPs launch stalking sentencing campaign in Parliament
Richard Graham MP and Alex Chalk MP hosted a discussion in Parliament on Tuesday to address issues around stalking sentences.
Minister for Sentencing Dominic Raab MP gave his thoughts on the MPs’ campaign to extend the maximum sentence for stalking, currently at only five years’ imprisonment. The MPs published a report on their research findings to support their campaign.
Dominic Raab MP said: “I think the moral point made about what a heinous crime this is, is well and truly registered. There is an understanding in the system that this is a problem that needs to be gripped more strongly.
There is clearly an issue about whether the sentencing at the very serious end really reflects the underlying criminality. So that’s something I want to go away and look at very carefully. ”
Richard Graham MP said: “I hope that this shows the anti-stalking sector that the government is listening and, with the Minister’s help, we can get this change into law that can help put the most dangerous stalkers away. Because they can be extremely dangerous.”
Dr Ellie Aston spoke on her experience of being stalked for seven years by a former patient. At his sentencing in May 2015, the judge told Ellie to write to her MP and ask for the sentence to be revised because he was frustrated by the small sentence.
Dr Aston said: “A change in the law now will not help my current situation but there is a chance that he will go to prison for longer next time. This law is the only way of keeping me and my family safe, and the other victims of the most dangerous serial stalkers in the country.
Offenders need to be detained for long enough periods of time to be correctly assessed and managed. I need those periods of peace to be able to function as a doctor, mother, wife and friend.”
Her MP Alex Chalk said: “Stalking is a horrible, violating crime. We launched this campaign because it’s become clear to us that the current sentencing regime is wholly inadequate to do justice in the most serious cases.”
Dr Jane Monckton-Smith, a senior criminology lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire spoke about her experience as Chair of Domestic Homicide Review Boards: “100% of the domestic homicides that I have looked at have had coercive control and stalking in the history. This is how important this is. We need to prevent homicides, and responding to stalkers with serious sentencing options may be a very effective tool.”
Laura Richards, Director and Founder of the first and only advocacy service for stalking victims, Paladin, spoke about the real need for the law to be revised four years on. “Please help us protect future victims and increase the sentence for stalkers. We hope that the government is listening to this evidence base for change that would save both lives and money.”
27 Parliamentarians have signed up to support the MPs’ campaign so far and they are hopeful that more will follow as they continue to push for change.