- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
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A local Senedd Member has called for urgent action from police and other agencies to prevent stalking.
Speaking in a Senedd debate, anti-violence campaigner Joyce Watson MS said that she would be seeking answers, to find out why police and other agencies haven’t fully used the powers they have to curb stalking.
Joyce Watson MS, Welsh Labour Senedd Member for Mid and West Wales, said:
“It is shocking that a fifth of British women experience stalking, yet action to tackle this seems woefully inadequate.
“Alarmingly, a BBC report found that only two stalking prevention orders had been granted in Wales between January 2020 and March 2021, despite 3,000 stalking offences being reported to the police during the same period.
“The 2019 Stalking Protection Act included civil Stalking Protection Orders, allowing the police to apply to magistrates to impose restrictions and requirements on perpetrators.
“Breaching the terms of these orders is a criminal offence, and any breach of conditions gives the police the power to arrest the perpetrator.
“However, with just two orders granted out of 3,000 reported offences, it appears that this legislation is not being fully used to protect victims as intended.
“I am concerned at the lack of police, CPS and magistrate action and I will be raising this directly with Dyfed Powys Police during our regular meetings.
“I want to see an urgent emphasis on awareness and training for all agencies involved in these cases.”
She asked the Minister for Social Justice to update on discussions Welsh Government had had with the police and the wider criminal justice system. She asked why the number of stalking prevention orders granted is so low and, if this is a matter of police training, how this is being addressed.
Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt thanked her, saying that her contribution would help strengthen the action that needs to be taken at all levels with powers and responsibilities.
Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt said:
“We’re strengthening and expanding our violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence strategy to include that focus on violence and harassment against women in the public space as well as in the home, and to ensure that that refreshed strategy is developed alongside key partners including the police, police and crime commissioners, and the specialist sector who have been working for years and years, particularly those providing refuge support for domestic abuse and sexual assault referral centres, which provide such incredible, invaluable support to victims and survivors of stalking.
“So, we need joint working with agencies such as the police and criminal justice partners, to make legislation work—what has been highlighted is the failure really, in terms of lack of stalking orders—to hold it to account and see what else we need to do, also working with the domestic abuse Commissioner for England and Wales and our UK Governments Ministers on these issues.
“High quality appropriate teaching and learning and relationships and sexuality education will play a very important role in this, and that’s why the RSE mandatory requirement within the new curriculum starting in September next year is so important, because it is about, the change has to come with our children and young people to highlight the importance of those are safe, equal and healthy relationship and that abusive behaviour is also always wrong.
“The revised strategy has to be ambitious. We’ve got to create a society where women are treated as equals and not subjected to violence and abuse on such an awful scale.
“We are talking specifically about stalking today, but we have to make this clear, that this is part of the spectrum of behaviours that politically affects women and girls and our response must be comprehensive if it’s to be effective, and I want to be held to account on this. We must unite when violence is on our street, we must unite for change and we must unite to allow everyone to live fear free.”
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