There are increasing calls on the UK government to introduce a national database to monitor those who harass and stalk women, following the suspected murder of Sarah Everard.
An amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill currently going through the House of Lords proposes that serial stalkers are put on the same register as sex offenders and violent offenders. This would allow police, councils and social services to share information and monitor abusers and stalkers.
A Change.org petition calling on the government to introduce this stalkers’ register has already received over 231,000 signatures. According to the Sunday Times, proposals for a similar “super-database” has the backing of Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.
An unnamed minister described the register as “the kind of practical change we should be looking at”, adding: “These people are often in the system, but who’s keeping tabs on them?”
Zoe Dronfield, 43, from Coventry, almost died after being brutally assaulted by an ex-partner, despite previously reporting his stalking to the police. It was only after the attack that she learnt he was a serial perpetrator who was already known to police for domestic abuse. She now campaigns with Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service founder Laura Richards to raise awareness of stalking and campaign for a stalkers’ register.
“What we are calling for, the public believe already exists – that police track and monitor repeat offenders of domestic abusers and stalkers,” Dronfield told VICE. “They do not. They do for other offences like terrorism, burglars, car thieves. Why not domestic abusers, given the scale [of the problem]? It is currently a postcode, force or even an officer lottery.”
When Dronfield called the police to report her ex, she says, her case was assessed as low risk. “That nearly cost me my life,” she said. “Had my perpetrator’s history been checked or flagged, it is possible the response would have been different, or I would not have even met him, as his historic offending would have been dealt with correctly in his previous offending.”
In 2018, Broadly partnered with Paladin to call for a stalkers’ register to protect victims and survivors. It also revealed that 60 women in the UK had been killed by their abusive partner, ex-partner or stalker since 2015, despite reporting their killers to police for threatening behaviour prior to their deaths.
Baroness Jan Royall, who proposed the amendment, has described stalking as “murder in slow motion” in HuffPo. The amendment is expected to pass in the House of Lords this week before returning to MPs for a vote.