Every year, women in the UK are killed by stalkers and domestic abusers—despite previously reporting them to the police. Unfollow Me is a campaign highlighting the under-reported issue of stalking and domestic abuse in support of anti-stalking charity Paladin 's calls to introduce a Stalkers Register in the UK. Follow all of our coverage here.
Four women in South Wales, UK were killed by people they had previously reported to police in the last three years, according to new data uncovered by Broadly under British freedom of information laws.
As part of the Unfollow Me campaign, Broadly asked every police force in the UK how many women had reported an abusive partner, ex-partner, or stalker for threatening behavior and went on to be killed by that individual.
South Wales Police told us that four women died in this way over the past three years, though it was unable to supply the names of the victims. It also declined to provide further information on whether the cases were referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) due to the possibility that it might prejudice ongoing investigations.
Watch: Unfollow Me—The Story of Alice Ruggles
One case that does match the parameters provided by the police force is the murder of Terri-Ann Jones, 33, from Cilma, Neath Port Talbot. The mother of two—known to her friends as Tan—was killed in January 2018 in a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend John Lewis. Jones’s injuries an 8cm wound to her heart, 13 wounds to her neck, three to her collarbone, and two to her chest, the BBC reports.
Jones’s family has made a complaint to the IOPC about how South Wales Police handled a domestic violence incident involving Lewis and Jones four months prior to her death. A family member confirmed to Broadly that the case is still under investigation by the IOPC.
The data from South Wales Police builds on our long-running investigation into stalking and domestic abuse that illustrates a widespread police failure to protect women from violent and dangerous individuals. In total, our data reveals that 60 women have died since 2015 despite previously flagging concerns about their killers to police.
Rachel Williams, 47, is one Welsh woman whose life has been affected by stalking and domestic abuse. The former hairdresser almost died after her estranged husband shot her in the legs at the Newport hair salon where she worked in August 2011.
She had left Darren Williams after suffering 18 years of abuse at his hands. Just weeks before the hair salon incident that left her gravely injured, Williams had been arrested by police for assaulting and threatening his wife. After the attempted murder, Williams fled the scene and died by suicide.
“Any death is a failure in my eyes, especially when it’s already been flagged up to police,” Williams tells Broadly. “We do know that with the police it is a postcode lottery, it all depends which police officer turns up. Because not every police officer is passionate about domestic abuse.”
She believes that more systematic training is needed across police officers at all levels. “It’s about making sure police officers are fully aware. In any job, I think we can become a little bit blasé. But that blasé attitude can cost a death.”
South Wales Police stressed their commitment to tackling stalking and domestic abuse in a statement to Broadly. “Protecting the most vulnerable in our communities and tackling violence against women and girls are key priorities within our joint Police & Crime Reduction Plan here in South Wales,” a spokesperson said. “Only by working together can we tackle this issue—reporting is the first and most critical step, once the police are aware we can and will take action.
“Together with our trusted partners we have the ability to provide effective support to victims to ensure their voices are being heard and perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Laura Richards, founder of anti-stalking charity Paladin, says that South Wales Police has historically failed to protect victims of stalking and domestic abuse. "South Wales has one of the highest rates of killings of women by men of any force in the country,” she said. “When women leave their controlling, abusive partner, the risk of serious harm and homicide increases significantly. It's when the stalking begins, and coercive control and stalking correlate positively with murder.
“It's high time South Wales Police trained their staff to take these cases seriously and they should proactively identify serial abusers. These are the most dangerous of case and too many women are paying with their lives. The current situation is unacceptable."
If you are being stalked and you are based in the UK, you can call Paladin on 020 3866 4107. If you are based in the US, you can call the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime on 855-484-2846.