Posted on April 12th, 2012
Louise has worked for Scottish Women’s Aid since 2001. Her remit as National Legal Issues Worker is to improve access to justice and promote the legal rights of, women, children and young people with experience of domestic abuse, through both influencing the development and implementation of justice policy and legislation, and monitoring and assessing emerging legislation and policy and the impact of these changes.
April 18th is a significant day for us. It marks the launch of the UK National Stalking Awareness Day and the formation of the UK National Stalking Alliance. Events are being held at Scottish Parliament, where SWA will speak along with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and other contributors, and also at Westminster.
At these events Scotland, England and Wales will declare a Zero Tolerance approach to “Stalking- not in our country” and on the 18th, students across the UK will declare a zero tolerance to “Stalking- not on our campuses,” with the launch of the student’s national stalking awareness day being led by Ayr College, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Bedfordshire
The event in Scotland forms part of a wider campaign launching new stalking awareness posters and an advice leaflet with information on the new stalking legislation in Scotland in seven languages, These have been distributed to police forces, support services, universities, colleges and schools, NHS, Social Work Departments, Community Councils, Local Councils, Criminal Justice Authorities.
Thanks to the work of Ann Moulds, Scottish National Stalking Group Chair and Action Scotland Against Stalking founder, Scotland has a specific offence of stalking under section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. By the first anniversary of the new legislation in December 2011, there were over 400 reported cases, a stark contrast to the past when only a handful of cases over the previous ten years were recorded.
This was an important development in women’s safety. Stalking had never previously been named as an offence and stalkers were prosecuted under legislation covering harassment or breach of the peace, neither of which highlighted the seriousness of the behaviour or the danger the perpetrator posed.
Following the success of the Scottish offence, campaigners in England and Wales pushed for a review of their legislation. Following a consultation by the Home Office, an amendment introducing a stalking as a specific offence in England and Wales was made to the Protection of Freedoms Bill currently going through Westminster.
The National Unions of Students Scotland voted ‘Stalking – not on our Campus’ as one of their priority campaigns of the year for 2011. The NUS Hidden Marks Report of 2010, reported the dangers facing women students in our universities and colleges: 12% had been stalked while at university or college; 68% had been a victim of one or more kinds of sexual harassment on campus during their time as a student; only 4% of women students who have been seriously sexually assaulted have reported it to their institution and only 10% of women students who have been seriously sexually assaulted have reported it to the police.
Scotland’s NUS anti stalking policy has been introduced into 4 of Scotland’s universities with another 8 universities in the process of completing the accreditation process.
For more information and copies of the posters and leaflets, visit the Scotland Against Stalking website here