130,000 people call for stalking register to protect victims

A national stalking database should be created to better protect victims, Downing Street has heard.

More than 130,000 people have backed a campaign calling for a registry to collate information about offenders.

The database would help police identify repeat stalkers and stop allegations being lightly dismissed, campaigners say.

Despite changes to stalking laws supporters believe claims are often ignored and rarely lead to prosecutions.

On Tuesday, ITV News was told by the family of Alice Ruggles she may still be alive if the database had been in existence.

And another victim revealed to ITV News that only after an ex-partner was jailed for stabbing her did a dozen women claim he had stalked them too.

  • Alice Ruggles' father speaks to ITV News

Former soldier Trimaan "Harry" Dhillon was jailed in April after stalking and fatally slitting the throat of ex-girlfriend Ms Ruggles, 24.

Despite having complained to police about him, Dhillon drove 120 miles from his barracks to confront her last October.

Ms Ruggles' father said the 26-year-old had also had a restraining order taken out against him by a woman two years before.

Clive Ruggles told ITV News that a national database would have flagged this up when his daughter made her complaint.

"If that had been known that should and could have influenced what the police did and how they reacted to that first phone call," he said.

"Perhaps they would have protected her better and done more than they actually did."

Mr Ruggles said the database should take the form of the sex offenders' register.

Zoe Dronfield, 41, who helped start the campaign, suffered a catalogue of injuries when an ex-partner stabbed her in the neck following a six-month campaign of stalking.

Only after Jason Smith was jailed for 10 years did 13 women come forward with claims they had also been stalked.

Ms Dronfield said she was treated with "disbelief" by police when reporting hundreds of unwanted phone calls, emails and contact over social media.

  • Victim: 'Police will take stalking seriously'

She told ITV News that a stalking database would bring about "cultural change" within the police.

"It will begin to start a culture change because the police will have to take it [stalking] seriously," Ms Dronfield said.

"If they [offenders] have been convicted before then we can take into account those historic offences - whereas at the moment everything is dealt with in isolation."

She added: "They [individual cases] can look unremarkable when they're on their own, so it's really key that we pick up that pattern and fixation that they have."

Zoe Dronfield was stabbed by her ex-partner Jason Smith.

Sarah Newton, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability said, said the Government was "determined" to do what it could to protect victims and stop perpetrators early on.

"That is why we have strengthened the law introducing new stalking offences and are taking steps to introduce a new stalking protection order to protect victims at the earliest possible stage," she said.

"We are committed to a comprehensive consultation with charities, partners and experts on a new Domestic Abuse Bill and will consider the full range of options to target perpetrators and protect victims."