Stalking laws 'not being implemented'

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The MP who chaired an inquiry that led to stalking being made a specific criminal offence has warned the new laws are not being implemented.

One year on, Elfyn Llwyd said the laws' "robust principles" were not "reflected in practice".

He told MPs thorough training for all criminal justice professionals was needed as part of ensuring real change.

But the Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP said he was pleased that "stalking is no longer a hidden crime".

Leading a House of Commons debate on the stalking laws, he said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had launched an online e-learning course on cyber stalking in September 2012 but training in the new stalking legislation had "barely commenced".

He called for a roll out of "thorough and complete training" for all criminal justice professionals monitored by the "relevant departments within Whitehall".

Treatment programmes

Stalking has not yet been included in the sentencing guidelines and Mr Llwyd said that, as a result, sentencing by the courts was "inconsistent, custody is rare, suspended custodial sentences common and sometimes community sentences are given and the stalking behaviour continues".

He warned that just getting conviction rates up was not enough because stalking is a "characteristic of obsessive behaviour".

Mr Llwyd called for a register for perpetrators and a "treatment programmes for serial stalkers".

But he said he was pleased that "stalking is no longer a hidden crime".

The National Stalking Helpline has seen a 56% increase in calls compared to the same period the previous year - with many callers saying that they are aware that the law has changed.

Ministers, he said, had also raised the possibility of giving victims the opportunity to "challenge decisions taken by the CPS not to charge suspects or to drop prosecutions".

He said this was essential work that "must be followed through if we are to see any real change".

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