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Victims of stalking are being let down – we must champion the voices of survivors

16 Apr 2024 4 minute read
CCTV footage of Rhianon Bragg being ambushed at gunpoint . Image Rhianon Bragg

Ann Griffith, Plaid Cymru North Wales PCC Candidate

Stalking is a serious problem in Wales. If elected as North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner on 2 May I would make it a priority to support victims of stalking.

As we approach National Stalking Awareness Week, which begins on 22 April, I think of all the stalking victims across north Wales who have been let down by the criminal justice system.

Rhianon Bragg

One such victim is Rhianon Bragg. Her attacker was convicted of stalking, false imprisonment, possessing a firearm and making threats to kill, and was handed a four-and-a-half-year custodial sentence alongside another 34-month sentence running concurrently – followed by a five year license period.

Rhianon’s experience has cast a bright light on the failings of the criminal justice system.

Despite Rhianon reporting textbook stalking to the police from the outset, it was only dealt with as harassment. The dangerousness of her perpetrator and the risk to Rhianon and her children were not addressed.

Not only was her perpetrator was released despite having been arrested three times without conditions to protect her and her family, but previous complaints made to the police of his behaviour were not dutifully followed up – and North Wales Police authorised the return of her attacker’s firearms despite 14 criminal allegations against him over 20 years.

The failings are too many to list here. The right actions could have avoided what followed, Rhianon’s horrific experience of being held hostage at gunpoint.

Her experience shows how stalking can be part of, or lead to, more violent behaviour or offences.

Victim’s Commissioner for London

The Victim’s Commissioner for London, Clare Waxman, has also drawn attention to how the larger picture of stalking behaviour can get lost within other offences.

Stalking offences are found in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PHA 1997) and the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.

Two offences of stalking were added to the former in 2012. The lower offence under Section 2A carries a maximum imprisonment term of six months, while stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress carries a maximum of 10 years – amended from five in 2017.

Clare’s experience shows that these laws are not enough to protect victims of stalking.

Clare’s stalker’s lifetime restraining order was broken six times, but he only received a 16-month sentence for his sixth offence.

This shows that offences such as breaches of restraining orders can’t be considered in isolation. Not only because of the lesser sentence such offences carry, but also because this takes away from the perpetrator’s wider offences, impacting victims’ lives and safety.

Addressing criminal justice failings

We really cannot underestimate the impacts of criminal justice system failures on victims.

In the year ending September 2023, stalking and harassment accounted for a third of all police recorded violence – but victims are not adequately supported.

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales has found that only 8% of 500 victims felt fully supported by the courts in 2022, and only 6% by the CPS.

We need specialist stalking training requirements for all professionals dealing with stalking cases, and a unified recording system to be used by the Police, the CPS, the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and National Probation Service to follow the journey of a victim of stalking through the criminal justice system. This is a key recommendation by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

The true ideal to address the issue of stalking would be to have a dedicated multi-agency team in each force area. Knowledgeable, specially trained teams, working positively to manage stalking behaviours, reduce the risk of harm to victims, and advocate for victims throughout their Criminal Justice journey.

If I am elected Police and Crime Commissioner, I will make it my mission to call for such a team in the North Wales Police force.


It’s been over a decade since former Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd led a parliamentary inquiry which found that existing laws in Wales and England do not work, leading to a change in the law on stalking.

It’s also around seven years since Liz Saville Roberts MP presented a bill in Parliament aiming to stop abusers further harassing their victims through court proceedings and to strengthen restraining orders and sanctions for breaching them. But issues like these remain.

If I am elected as North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner on 2 May, I will continue Plaid Cymru’s leading role call for real effective procedural changes to better support victims of stalking. I have and will always champion the voices of survivors.

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