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Forces must use SPOs more regularly, says anti-stalking charity

The Metropolitan Police are leading in their use of Stalking Protection Orders, but admit the 105 they've issued since they were introduced is "not nearly enough".

Forces must use SPOs more regularly, says anti-stalking charity

Date - 19th April 2021
By - Chloe Livadeas
1 Comment 1 Comment}

Today (19 April) marks the beginning of stalking awareness week and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has released their latest report, titled: “Unmasking Stalking”.

It included the results of a survey in which 60 per cent of respondents who reported stalking to the police between February 2020 and February 2021 indicated that they had no legal protections in place in terms of orders or injunctions. When they were in place most commonly they were restraining orders, non-molestation orders or bail conditions.

Suzy Bhaker, CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “This is highly concerning as stalking protection orders were brought into force specifically to support the unique needs of stalking victims. Other orders cannot offer the level of protection stalking protection orders can given the positive requirements attached to them.”

SPOs were introduced in January 2020. Any breach of an order is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Ms Bhaker added: “And although some areas have used these stalking protection orders more often than others, we do urge police forces to use them on a regular basis.”

Detective Inspector David Barnard heads the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre, a unit set up in 2018. He revealed the Met had issued 105 SPOs since they were introduced, a number he called “not nearly enough”.

“We should have more of these orders,” he said.

The Met, who are the leading force on the use of SPOs, initially predicted 48 SPOs would be issued each month (four per BCU), which means around 720 would have been issued by now.

“So I recognise that isn't enough,” DI Barnard said. “One of the multiple difficulties we face at the moment is that the courts are still kind of educating themselves with it. It is so new.

“Everyone is coming to terms with their understanding and their interpretation of the statutory guidance as well.”

He said they were engaging with Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service to raise issues and "unblock those blockages as we go along".

From April 2020 to February 2021 stalking in London has risen 300 per cent from 1,908 to 7,909 cases. This rise has been attributed to better awareness and recording practices, and the fact this period covers lockdown which the Trust says caused perpetrators to have more time on their hands and victims to become "sitting ducks." 

The Met carried out research that looked at one year of stalking cases to understand the prevalence of mental disorders and illnesses, which was around 60 per cent, which was later echoed in international studies. “This is why it’s so important to have a multi-agency approach,” said DI Barnard.

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Trebor Leep - Mon, 19 April 2021

In principle I couldn't agree more with the SL Trust. The issue here country wide is as 'Lee' quite rightly albeit diplomatically states ...the courts are still educating themselves. The Courts quite frankly have yet to understand the spirit and purpose behind not just SPO's but DVPO's, RO etc They concern themselves more with the status of ongoing investigations and especially whether police bail is offering the same protection already and therefore fail to see the longer term and civil protection that these orders can, should and after all were intended to afford victims.