Supporting the women victims of stalking

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2014 National Women's Conference
17 October 2013
Carried as Amended

According to the British Crime Survey there are approximately 120,000 predominantly vulnerable female victims of stalking each year; however less than half of these cases are recorded as crimes.

Research in 2011 found that stalking is not fully recognised by criminal justice professionals and too often stalking goes unreported. When it is reported there is a lack of understanding and low priority is given to cases by the criminal justice system. In many cases the pattern of stalking is missed and effective risk assessment, management and a coordinated response is lacking, putting women’s lives at risk. Even where perpetrators were convicted, sentences were often short and few received any treatment to reduce the risk of re-offending. In addition breaches of restraining orders were not treated seriously.

Latest figures show that more than 80% of the victims of stalking are women, and over 70% of the perpetrators are men, most of them known to their victims either as previous partners or acquaintances, including those targeted because their stalker wrongly believes that a professional relationship is personal. Whatever the origin, stalking is without doubt a gendered crime.

Now, as a result of the stalking law reform campaign two new offences of stalking have been enacted, but women are still not being adequately supported, nor are cases being taken seriously, despite high profile media cases of women who have been stalked and murdered, and failures being identified in the way their cases were handled.

Conference calls upon the national women’s committee to work with the NEC, UNISON health and safety and There for You to:

• explore ways of working with Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service to ensure that UNISON members experiencing or at risk of stalking are supported;

• promote the UNISON health and safety guidance on violence at work “It’s not part of the job”.