Stalking - The Case for Extending the Maximum Penalty.
It came to my attention that in the UK, there are two Conservative Members of Parliament bringing forward an amendment to the Stalking Legislation. They are looking to have sentence raised in the law courts raised from a maximum of five years to ten to protect victims.
It has changed so much since Ashley Geddes was arrested for stalking and threatening me. I was told at the time I might be lucky if he got one year if convicted, however, since I'd had to move from Yorkshire to Devon to protect myself he was simply "bound over" for a year, meaning if he continued he would be re-arrested and maybe sent to prison. Thankfully, he finally got the message and, left me alone. However, that sadly is not the case for many.
In light of this I decided to contact both MP's and offer any assistance I could to help. Below I am going to show you my letter to Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham and Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester and their responses:
"Dear Alex and Richard,
I am writing to you to thank you for campaigning for the amendment to the stalking legislation to be considered for any future Criminal Justice Bill. Your work on this, came to my attention today.
I am an advocate for raising stalking awareness, as I was one of the first people to have someone arrested under the 1997 Harassment Act, in late Dec 1996, the Police were supportive but were struggling as it was such a new law. I had been stalked, harassed and held captive in my house at knife point. I had to sell my house at a loss and move from Yorkshire to Devon, due to his stalking, I lost everything including my children. He was found guilty in Pudsey Magistrates Court but due to the fact I'd had to move, he was given a years suspended sentence, which was ridiculous after everything he had done.
Four years ago, I undertook a journey of recovery and now look to help people who are in struggling in a similar situation. I now live in New York, but I am returning back to the UK soon.
In Scotland, when a stalker is brought to trial, the victim is also notified and advised on seeking compensation for losses gained. This is a fact, often overlooked in English courts and not brought to the attention of the victim, who loses thousands due to being completely immersed in trying to purely stay alive. This also should be brought to light.
Many survivors struggle financially during and after the arrest. I know my stalker continued to work on Police cell masts (even though he now had a criminal record after the hearing in Pudsey, Leeds.), and suffered no losses at all. There are many aspects that need changing in the UK laws. Sadly, under the current UK law all survivors who did have the courage to have their stalker arrested, when the Harassment Bill of 1997 was brought in, cannot seek any compensation now as their cases are classed as "Historical". It is noted under the act that a survivor has 5 years to claim compensation, but this was not the case for survivors like myself, whose cases stemmed back to the 90's. This law should be amended, to be brought to light, so that those who were misinformed and badly advised in the early days of the Harassment Act, can seek restitution.
If there is anything I can do to help push the legislation through i.e. online petition etc, please let me know.
Alex Chalk's response was:
Thank you for writing and for sharing your experiences with me. The compensation point you raise is an interesting and powerful one, and no doubt merits close further consideration. The main thrust of our campaign in Parliament however focuses on the need to strengthen the sentencing regime around stalking. In our view it is that distinct and clear message which is at least part of the reason why the campaign is gaining significant traction.
So whilst in due course we may want to turn to what else can be done to protect stalking victims, I hope you will understand if why at present we have to keep focused on our central plank of our campaign. But in the meantime, can I invite you to contact Laura Richards at Paladin (a UK stalking charity) who I’m sure would be interested to discuss this with you (www.laurarichards.co.uk).
Alex Chalk MP"
Richard Graham's response was:
Thank you very much for your mail.
Since Alex and I started this campaign we have been shocked by the number of people who have come forward with stories of stalking – including people we knew and yet knew nothing about their ordeal. It seems much more far reaching than we initially could have imagined, and I’m sorry to hear of your situation also. I hope that you can come back to the UK safely soon.
We’ve also heard of many other recommendations with regards to the law and protocol. We chose the sentencing aspect in particular as a specific ask that we thought we could achieve, but I do encourage you to continue in your great work in Scotland and appreciate you letting us know your thoughts on this.
If you’re happy, then I will pass your details to my researcher Megan to include you on our mailing list with updates, events etc. We’d be delighted to have your support.
We’ve also been asking advocates and campaigners to agree to put their name on page 16 of the report (attached) along with Parliamentarians who support the campaign. I hope that we can include you also.
Thank you again for your email and good luck with your work.
I emailed him back thanking him, saying he could absolutely add my name to it. It does, however, make us realize that in fact we still have a long way to go to help stalking victims, on many different levels. Safety being the first and foremost, but then when we dig deeper there are so many more. For instance, we need a Stalker's Registry, just like the Sex Offender's Registry and how many victims lost thousand's financially, even there homes, families, friends, the list goes on.
If you are reading this and live in the UK, please ask your local MP, whether they be Conservative or Labour to contact either Alex Chalk MP or Richard Graham MP to have their names added for the support of the Amendment. Please send them this document, which is the proposed bill: House of Commons, Stalking - The Case for Extending the Maximum Penalty.
If you could bring changes to the Stalking Legislation, what would it be?