Stalking Awareness Week



Rhoda's Speech in the Scottish Parliament debate


3 April 2019

I congratulate Rona Mackay on securing this important members’ business debate.

I look forward to hearing more about her proposed member’s bill, because a victim should never be responsible for their own protection.

I also pay tribute to Ann Moulds from Action Against Stalking.

Rona Mackay outlined Ann’s terrifying personal experience of stalking. Ann was instrumental in getting the law changed in Scotland such that stalking was made a crime.

I remember the first time I met Ann Moulds.

She came to see me to persuade me to add stalking to my Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill.

Stalking was recognised as a sinister act, but it was not a criminal offence in its own right, and it was dealt with through common law—as a breach of the peace, for example.

I did not believe that my bill was the right place for it.

However, the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was going through Parliament at the time: it was a better vehicle with which to criminalise stalking.

We therefore worked on an amendment to that effect.

Ann Moulds not only persuaded me to do that; she also persuaded the committee to accept the amendment.

Members can imagine that there was reluctance to accept it, given that the committee had not taken evidence on stalking at stage 1, but she convinced the committee by her sheer tenacity.

That made my job of getting the amendment through so much easier.

Ann knew first hand about the terrifying nature of the crime, and she wanted to protect others from having to go through the trauma that she had gone through.

Stalking is an extremely difficult crime to define for legislation.

Seemingly innocent actions can take on a sinister bearing just because of the context.

As Rona Mackay said, a bunch of flowers, which would normally be welcome, can be absolutely terrifying.

I vividly remember one of the examples that I was given when I was working on the amendment that I mentioned.

A woman left a note to herself on the kitchen table to buy a loaf of bread before she left for work.

When she came home that night, the note had been replaced by a loaf of bread.

In most circumstances, that would be a kind gesture, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we learn that she lived alone and was being stalked.

When something is sometimes a crime and sometimes not a crime, depending on the context, it is very hard to legislate for it. However, we achieved that with stalking.

The increase in cases of stalking is concerning.

Some of that increase might be due to the fact that there is now legal protection, which makes such crimes easier to report and identify.

That will account for some of the increase, but I believe that a lot more opportunities are available to those who would be stalkers.

Jenny Gilruth talked about how new technology makes stalking much easier: social media help others to track people.

The ability to do that can be helpful in the right context, but when stalking is involved, it can be terrifying.

It is also hard to identify both the crime and the perpetrator.

As I have explained, actions that can be innocent can also be sinister.

That makes it difficult to show that the actions are crimes.

Stalkers can be very devious.

A stalker can be a stranger, or can be known to their victim.

They can be very close to their victim, and they can get pleasure from watching the real distress that their actions can cause.

In some cases, the stalker is an ex-partner.

The relationship may not have been abusive, but the impact of ending it might have led to the ex-partner becoming a stalker.

They might be unable to accept that the relationship is over.

Stalking takes many forms and is therefore difficult to identify and cope with.

Ann Moulds not only changed the law: she also campaigns against stalking.

To this day, she is providing, through Action Against Stalking, information, training and support to victims.

Her work has provided a lifeline to others, so I commend her for it.

2 April 2019

I congratulate Rona Mackay on securing this important members’ business debate.

I look forward to hearing more about her proposed member’s bill, because a victim should never be responsible for their own protection.

I also pay tribute to Ann Moulds from Action Against Stalking.

Rona Mackay outlined Ann’s terrifying personal experience of stalking. Ann was instrumental in getting the law changed in Scotland such that stalking was made a crime.

I remember the first time I met Ann Moulds.

She came to see me to persuade me to add stalking to my Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill.

Stalking was recognised as a sinister act, but it was not a criminal offence in its own right, and it was dealt with through common law—as a breach of the peace, for example.

I did not believe that my bill was the right place for it.

However, the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was going through Parliament at the time: it was a better vehicle with which to criminalise stalking.

We therefore worked on an amendment to that effect.

Ann Moulds not only persuaded me to do that; she also persuaded the committee to accept the amendment.

Members can imagine that there was reluctance to accept it, given that the committee had not taken evidence on stalking at stage 1, but she convinced the committee by her sheer tenacity.

That made my job of getting the amendment through so much easier.

Ann knew first hand about the terrifying nature of the crime, and she wanted to protect others from having to go through the trauma that she had gone through.

Stalking is an extremely difficult crime to define for legislation.

Seemingly innocent actions can take on a sinister bearing just because of the context.

As Rona Mackay said, a bunch of flowers, which would normally be welcome, can be absolutely terrifying.

I vividly remember one of the examples that I was given when I was working on the amendment that I mentioned.

A woman left a note to herself on the kitchen table to buy a loaf of bread before she left for work.

When she came home that night, the note had been replaced by a loaf of bread.

In most circumstances, that would be a kind gesture, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we learn that she lived alone and was being stalked.

When something is sometimes a crime and sometimes not a crime, depending on the context, it is very hard to legislate for it. However, we achieved that with stalking.

The increase in cases of stalking is concerning.

Some of that increase might be due to the fact that there is now legal protection, which makes such crimes easier to report and identify.

That will account for some of the increase, but I believe that a lot more opportunities are available to those who would be stalkers.

Jenny Gilruth talked about how new technology makes stalking much easier: social media help others to track people.

The ability to do that can be helpful in the right context, but when stalking is involved, it can be terrifying.

It is also hard to identify both the crime and the perpetrator.

As I have explained, actions that can be innocent can also be sinister.

That makes it difficult to show that the actions are crimes.

Stalkers can be very devious.

A stalker can be a stranger, or can be known to their victim.

They can be very close to their victim, and they can get pleasure from watching the real distress that their actions can cause.

In some cases, the stalker is an ex-partner.

The relationship may not have been abusive, but the impact of ending it might have led to the ex-partner becoming a stalker.

They might be unable to accept that the relationship is over.

Stalking takes many forms and is therefore difficult to identify and cope with.

Ann Moulds not only changed the law: she also campaigns against stalking.

To this day, she is providing, through Action Against Stalking, information, training and support to victims.

Her work has provided a lifeline to others, so I commend her for it.




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