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Theresa May urged to back Liz Lynne's anti-stalking move in European Parliament

December 8, 2010 5:50 PM
Originally published by Liz Lynne

Survivors of terrifying stalking abuse and local MEP Liz Lynne are urging the Home Secretary to back a move in the European Parliament to support tougher action to stamp out stalking.

Former ITV presenter and stalking victim Alexis Bowater has praised Theresa May for calling a summit with top police officers tomorrow. The talks follow the release of figures showing a huge response to the UK's National Stalking Helpline since it was launched in April.

Now Alexis, the Chief Executive of Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS), is calling on the Tory Home Secretary to throw her weight behind efforts to get a Written Declaration through the European Parliament, calling for EU-wide action against stalking.

Proposed by Lib Dem MEP Liz Lynne with all party support, Written Declaration 0072 calls for all EU member states to recognise stalking as a criminal offence and back specific measures to support the victims and train police officers.

Liz Lynne MEP said: "It is encouraging to see how seriously Theresa May is taking this issue since she became Home Secretary, following up the pledges she made in opposition.

"The first figures for the UK's stalking hotline show that there is a huge previously hidden problem of abuse. Millions of people like Alexis have been put through a terrible ordeal by stalkers, often over years. Tragically some have been attacked and even killed after the abuse escalated into violence.

"England and Wales has the Protection from Harassment Act, but it does not apply in Scotland. Only 8 out of the other 26 countries in the EU have any laws against stalking."

"My declaration, supported by the NSS, calls for all EU countries to make stalking a crime, with support for victims, more research on best practice and more training for police.

"As well as helping their own people, it will also protect UK citizens travelling, studying or working elsewhere in the EU."

Alexis Bowater and the NSS helped set up the stalking helpline in the UK and worked with Liz on the Declaration.

She said: "This is a golden opportunity to change millions of lives by Christmas, not just in Britain but all over Europe. But time is running out.

"My team has emailed every MEP and over 100 have now signed, but we need 369 in total to get it adopted by the closing date on December 20th. There is no reason for MEPs from the nine EU countries which have anti stalking laws not to sign.

"This is not just about crime prevention, it is about human rights and in some cases it is about saving lives. In all cases stalkers are stealing lives."

"I hope everyone lobbies their local MEPs from every party to sign declaration 0072."

ENDS

Notes: In Britain, the Protection from Harassment Act applies to England and Wales but Scotland has so far not passed a similar law. Other countries with legislation include Ireland, Italy, Malta, Germany, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark. Theresa May is due to meet police chiefs from 44 forces on Thursday to discuss an integrated approach to tackling stalking, after figures released on the National Stalking Helpline.

Alexis Bowater, a former news anchorwoman on ITV news was the victim of a two year long campaign of graphic and threatening emails, which caused her to fear for her life. She is now Chief Executive of the Network for Surviving Stalking.

Other recent high profile cases also include Clare Wood, the Manchester woman murdered by her ex-partner George Appleton after months of threats and assaults, despite many contacts with the local police. Liz Lynne MEP and the NSS are hoping to arrange a conference in the European Parliament in the New Year to look at how Member States are tackling stalking and have invited Theresa May to take part.

0072/2010 Written declaration on the fight against stalking - launched on September 20th at Strasbourg.

The European Parliament,

•having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas stalking can be a terrifying experience; placing victims at risk of psychological trauma and physical harm,

B. whereas 1.2 million women and 900 000 men are affected by stalking annually in the UK and it is estimated that similar rates exist in other EU Member States,

C. whereas 7 Member States have now recognised the crime of stalking, but 20 Member States still have not,

1. urges all Member States to recognise stalking as a criminal offence and introduce anti-stalking legislation;

2. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to do more to raise awareness of this issue, and on the Member States to introduce more specific training for police officers and measures to support the victims of stalking;

3. Urges the Commission to do more research into levels of stalking, and propose measures to exchange best practice in this field and consider what further action it believes needs to be taken at EU level;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Council of Europe and the UN.