In in the immediate aftermath of Sarah Everard’s tragic murder, parties across the political spectrum called for tougher action against male violence against women. The government had the political capital to do something. Instead, he promised us more streetlights, some undercover cops, and proposals to register misogyny as a hate crime – symbolic policies that do little to reduce violence against women. After half a decade of reporting on the subject, it should come as no surprise that the government views women’s lives with such contempt. And yet somehow it is.
There is a policy that would save lives: a stalker registry. Proposed by anti-stalking charity Paladin, to stalker registry it would be a national database of men convicted of stalking and domestic violence. The government would not need to create a new database from scratch; we already have the system to track these criminals, often serially. It would simply be a matter of adding these men to the Violent and Sex Offender Registry (ViSOR), which is already used to track sex offenders.
Essentially, these men would be monitored by the police and would be legally obliged to notify them if they were entering a new relationship. The police would then be responsible for notifying prospective partners of their crime history. (Under Clare’s law, women you can ask the police if your partners are convicted domestic abusers; however, the request must be made by the woman; police have no responsibility to proactively notify women). This is critical because, as professor criminologist Jane Monckton-Smith has identified, these abusers tend to “love bomb”To their partners in the early stages of relationships, filling them with affection and romance. Early intervention is key if we want to empower women to make informed decisions about whether they really want to date violent and abusive men.
Studies have found that 83% of perpetrators of domestic abuse are repeat offenders. They start with the petty crimes, test the waters, see how the police respond and when nothing happens, in the most of the cases nothing ever happens, they are emboldened. His offense escalates to a sometimes fatal end. Anti-stalking activist Zoe Dronfield was beaten up and left for dead for her ex-partner after she ended their relationship. Later, she found out that he had harassed 13 other women before her. The only thing worse than being the first partner of a serial abuser is being the last. The final partner rarely survives.
It is inconceivable to me that there is no existing framework to monitor serial stalkers and domestic abusers. We track pedophiles, rightly so, because such people cannot be allowed to work in our daycare centers and schools. Why not also protect women and girls from abusive men? Our elected representatives agree: in 2018, the select committee on home affairs endorsed the Introduction from a register of stalkers, how it was made the London Assembly and the Mayor of London in 2019. A petition to Introduce a stalker registry has more than 235,000 signatures. An amendment to the domestic abuse bill, proposing The introduction of a stalker registry is currently before the House of Lords. The amendment is expected to pass, which means MPs may soon have the ability to vote on the proposals.
In 2018 I ran a year Bell in the Vice media publication, calling on the government to introduce a stalker registry to protect women and girls from serial abusers. I launched the Unfollow Me campaign because I was horrified by the case of 23-year-old Molly McLaren, who was murdered for her stalker ex-boyfriend Joshua Stimpson in 2017. McLaren informed Stimpson, who had a story of aggressive behavior towards women, to the police before they killed her. If the police could have verified a record of stalkers, they would have seen that they had a repeat offender on their hands. Instead, they did next to nothing and McLaren died in a Chatham parking lot.
It’s obvious to me that these dangerous men must be monitored and tracked down. But all too often, the police seem listless when it comes to investigating reports of domestic harassment and abuse, dismissing serious crimes such as the romantic proposals of a rejected suitor. Take the case of 19-year-old Shana Grice. She reported her ex-boyfriend Michael Lane to the police five times for harassment before he murdered her in 2016. Instead of investigating Lane, who had a history of abuse women, Sussex Police fined Grice £ 90 for wasting police time.
I have looked into the eyes of the families of the murdered women and I have seen their pain. People like Sue and Clive Ruggles. His daughter, Alice ruggles, was murdered in 2016 by her stalker ex-boyfriend, Trimaan Dhillon. He was 24 years old. After Alice ended the relationship, Dhillon stalked her relentlessly. Alice repeatedly called the police about her harassment, but they did almost nothing. Dhillon broke into her apartment in October 2016 and slit her throat. After his death, Sue and Clive discovered that an ex-girlfriend had taken out a restraining order against Dhillon. If Alice had known who she was actually dating, she may never have had a relationship with him. Since her death, Sue and Clive have struggled to introduce a stalker registry to protect other women from men like Dhillon.
There are so many women like Alice, Molly and Shana. Two women a week are delicate by current or former partners in the UK. Last week, The Guardian reported on the case of Amy-Leanne Stringfellow, who was murdered by her partner, Terence Papworth, in June 2020. Previous girlfriends had accused Papworth of extreme domestic violence. Papworth had abused a number of women, and Stringfellow was unlucky enough to be the last. Men like Papworth are all the same. Not change. The only thing that changes is the women whose lives they ruin and ultimately end.
The government has the capacity and infrastructure to stop these men in their tracks, and yet it does not. Why will no one connect the dots and protect women and girls from these violent men?
Sirin Kale is a London-based journalist specializing in women’s rights, politics, music, lifestyle and culture.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism