Stalking victim says she was not taken seriously by police until she endured eight-hour attack

  • ITV News Correspondent Stacey Foster interviews survivor Zoe Dronfield

A woman who was almost killed by her ex-boyfriend in a sustained attack is calling for a serial stalker register and says the police need to do more to protect victims of violent abuse.

Zoe Dronfield, from Coventry, was subjected to the eight-hour attack in 2014 after confronting her former partner, Jason Smith, over his incessant messages even though they had split up.

The 42-year-old had reported him to the police but does not believe she was taken seriously by West Midlands Police until the attack.

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Dronfield said: "The police response throughout the whole story was just minimising what I was actually going through.

Ms Dronfield was left with severe swelling and a bleed on the brain.

"Prior to the attack they were saying just turn off your phone, turn off social media, close down MySpace and after the attack he was contacting me from prison.

"The response again was turn your phone off. That's not acceptable."

Ms Dronfield was stabbed and slashed numerous times, beaten so badly she was left unrecognisable and had a bleed on the brain.

Smith was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2015, with a minimum term of 10 years.

The 42-year-old believes as she was not the 'perfect victim' she was not taken seriously by police.

Her comments come as an inquiry into Sussex Police found there were major shortcomings in how the force deals with harassment and stalker cases.

The report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) was commissioned after the death of Shana Grice, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Michael Lane, despite reporting him to the police.

Inspectors found police forces were not using powers to search perpetrators' home so investigations are "not as thorough as they could be" and victims of harassment are not being properly protected because injunctions are not being used.

Ms Dronfield believes as she did not fit into the stereotype of a "perfect victim", the response from police was lacking.

Shana Griece was murdered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, Michael Lane. Credit: PA

She added: "If you are not a shell of your former self, or saying the things that they perceive to be victim, then the response is different."

The 42-year-old has campaigned for the sex offenders' register to be opened up, to include serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators so police can keep track of dangerous offenders.

She believes the register will "save lives" and works alongside the national stalking advocacy service, Paladin to share her experience and inform the police about what they can do differently.

Ms Dronfield said she would never have confronted her ex-partner if she had been warned by police and was never signposted to the relevant services when she reported her abuse.

Recalling the first time she looked in the mirror after the attack, Ms Dronfield said: "[I remember] thinking wow.

"I think it's hard, I'm a strong person so the outside shell isn't whats going on inside because I was just so angry I had gone through all of that.

"There was no need."