Rachel Horman speaking on Channel 4 News feature 29th April 2019 discussing the case of stalking victim Justene Reece.and the report of the Independent Office for Police Conduct in to the circumstances which led her to take her own life as a result of the stalking and harassment she suffered. The feature also looks at the news covering victims of rape to be asked to consent to hand over their mobile phones for permission to access emails, messages and photographs or risk prosecutions not going ahead.

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The case of Laura Stuart highlights yet another woefully inadequate police response to a female victim of domestic abuse, coercive control and stalking.

Her relationship with Jason Cooper was dominated by his coercively controlling behaviour, for example making her photograph her time sheets at work so he knew exactly where she was and what time she was working, throwing plates of food at the wall after she had cooked for him and isolating her from friends.

When Laura separated from Cooper the domestic abuse predictably turned to stalking with Cooper texting her constantly (421 times in one day), standing outside in the street waiting for her and making threats to kill her.

There were 18 reports to the police yet no action was taken by the police and tragically Laura joined the long static statistic of 2 women a week being murdered by a partner or ex-partner.

The police pushed the responsibility back to her asking if she wanted to press charges rather than following the proper practice and proactively charging him.

Laura was not an expert in her own risk and the DASH risk assessment clearly was not carried out by the police – another failure.

The lack of police action often emboldens perpetrators and gives them confidence to escalate their behaviour often to the ultimate act of control – murder.

I am sick to the back teeth of hearing the police roll out their stock phrase – “lessons will be learned”.

Except they never are.

We have reached a stage where we need to do something different on behalf of victims and hold those who fail them to account.

The police should face manslaughter charges in relation to their failures – only this will change the appalling culture of misogyny and automatic disbelief and minimisation shown to female victims of domestic abuse and stalking.

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