Thirty-five years after London estate agent Suzy Lamplugh disappeared, the trust that bears her name is calling for action to address what it says is a shockingly low conviction rate for stalking cases.
Suzy Lamplugh Trust was formed in 1986 by Paul and Diana Lamplugh after the disappearance of their daughter; Suzy’s body has never been found, but she has been presumed murdered and was legally declared dead in 1993.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust offers advice, training, policy writing, consultancy, and information to enable people and organisations to be and feel safer.
In a report to mark the 35th anniversary of Suzy’s disappearance, it says there are an estimated 1.5m cases of stalking every year in England and Wales but only 0.1 per cent of cases resulted in a conviction for stalking in the year ending March 2020.
Of those, only 26 per cent - that’s 304 perpetrators - received an immediate custodial sentence: the trust says this is putting victims, around 80 per cent of whom are women, at risk.
The trust says that in the year ending March 2020, 32,217 stalking offences were recorded by the police – representing just two per cent of all estimated stalking crimes – with only 3,506 recorded offences charged.
The percentage of reported cases being charged has fallen year on year over the last five years, from 23 per cent in the year ending March 2016 to only 11 per cent in the year ending March 2020.
Suky Bhaker, the trust’s chief executive, says: “The journey of the trust over its 35-year history has been astounding in its achievements despite being born from the most tragic of circumstances and we work tirelessly to ensure that Suzy’s legacy lives on.
“However, while we have achieved great things and seen improvements in the support available to victims of stalking and other forms of violence and aggression, there is so much more to do to reduce incidents of stalking and harassment and ensure the safety of victims.
“We are calling on the government today to address the prevalence of violence against women and girls in society and to take action. The shockingly low conviction rates for stalking leave thousands of victims without the protections they so urgently need to reduce the risks to their physical and mental health.
“It takes immense courage to come forward to report stalking behaviours which have a devastating impact on victims’ lives, and it is simply not good enough that so many cases fall by the wayside without attaining the justice victims need and want.”