Why we need a Victims Law

The Stalking Law Campaign & Victims Rights Campaign – Why the campaigns?

Through my journey as a stalking victim, I experienced first-hand a torrent of abuse and re-victimisation at the hands of our Criminal Justice System. Throughout the past decade, I was exposed to a system, that I naively trusted and put my faith in, that placed the rights of my stalker way above my rights to be protected and free from this man. I was rarely kept up to date with any information on my case and the CPS were beyond appalling at every court hearing, bail application and trial, allowing defence to play every trick in the book whilst I was left stranded with no access to support or guidance. I was a bystander and yet the crime was having a direct impact on my life but I was given no control and no voice to explain just how bad the impact was. Victim Support was not able to help me as they had no understanding of stalking and there was no service to offer me any support or treatment. It was the isolation and rejection from the Criminal Justice System that often compounded the effects of the crime and made it far more debilitating for me.

Over the past decade, there were catastrophic mistakes made by every agency involved from Police through to Probation, that placed me at risk and breached my human rights. At one point, I decided to take legal proceedings against the CPS for breach of my human rights for placing my stalkers rights before mine. Even after winning this high court case, my rights continued to be breached. It soon became apparent to me that there was not only a gap in legislation regarding stalking and a lack of understanding of this crime, but also a complete disregard to victims’ rights.

My first crusade, was to ensure that something was done about the stalking legislation and in 2010, I started Claire’s campaign, using my case to highlight all the gaps in legislation, we started an e-petition via Now Magazine & Facebook and asked for public support for a stalking legislation and for mandatory training. With this campaign, came overwhelming support from thousands signing the petition and other victims offering their stories to show how much legislation was needed. It was comforting to know that I was not alone and that sadly, others were experiencing the same awful ordeal with no support or help.

Shortly after the campaign started, Protection Against Stalking , a charity set up by Tricia Bernal and Carol Faruqui , publicly supported my campaign and after years, I finally received the support I had been desperate for. They were able to involve other key victims, Ann Moulds, Tracey Morgan, Sam Taylor and John & Penny Clough to join forces to support the campaign and share their painful ordeals. Each case highlighted how desperately we needed the law to change. With the hard work of these victims and others and under the guidance of Harry Fletcher and Laura Richards and the unwavering support of Elfyn Llywd, the stalking legislation became a reality. In just two years we had achieved so much. It was a momentous step but today, four years on, I am fully aware that the job is not over. We continue to work collectively as we recognise there is still much to be done for stalking victims in this country to ensure better understanding, support, protection, mandatory risk assessments and treatment for both perpetrators and their victims.

Even with this new legislation in place, it soon became apparent that my treatment as a victim was not just a result of the failings of the CJS to recognise stalking but also down to the lack of rights I had during the whole process. I began to question if victims of other crimes experienced the same sort of treatment as me.

I’ve spent the past year fact finding and gathering evidence and working with many different victims organisations and charities just to understand how widespread the issue of the lack of victims’ rights really is. Each story still shocked as I’ve heard how disgracefully victims can be treated in this country and what further pain and abuse they are exposed to once they’ve entered a system that is designed to protect those accused of crime. The system has been built on an inequality of rights, and now is the time to address that imbalance so that the system becomes fair and equal for all who partake in it and the victims’ role and rights must be included in this.

The past year has shown that the Victims Code does not work. As we highlighted last year, the code is toothless and offers no protection of rights for victims. We must have a Victims Law, and place rights firmly in statutory law. There is no quick fix here, it is not a case of picking up the existing Victims Code and placing that in law, it requires a lot of hard work and dedication to collate all the evidence and ensure all areas are covered so that we get it right for all victims of crime, not just those that shout the loudest.

Voice4Victims have created a coalition of organisations who place victims at the heart of everything they do to ensure that the victim’s voice and victims’ rights are considered. We are working closely now with the Victims Service Alliance and its members and have had overwhelming support from MAMAAUK and SAMM Abroad , who have worked on victims’ rights longer than most.

If you are a victim, then please do get in touch and share your experience so we can ensure that the CJS will listen. If you are an organisation that supports victims, and wish to support this campaign, then please do get in touch as a Victims Law will affect all victims of crime, so please make your voice heard.

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