Serial domestic abusers or stalkers should be registered and monitored in the same way as serious violent and sexual offenders, a group of cross-party MPs have said, as they put forward a proposed change to domestic abuse laws currently passing through parliament.
The amendment to the domestic abuse bill for England and Wales, which is at the committee stage of scrutiny, would put serial domestic abuse and stalking offenders on the violent and sex offender register (Visor) and subject them to monitoring and management through multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mappa).
Visor is a database of records of those required to register with the police under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, those jailed for more than 12 months for violent offences and those thought to be at risk of offending, while a Mappa is a coordinated arrangement between agencies responsible for managing an offender in the community.
The amendment is designed to help authorities “join the dots” and prevent further tragedies committed by repeat domestic abusers and stalkers like that of Hollie Gazzard, who was stalked and murdered by Asher Maslin. Maslin was involved in 24 previous violent offences, three on Gazzard, 12 on an ex-partner, and seven on others.
Other relevant cases include that of Molly McLaren, who was abused and stalked by Joshua Stimpson. He had done the same to at least two women before but McLaren knew nothing about his history. He stabbed her 75 times.
The proposed addition has been tabled by Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the home affairs select committee, and backed by the Conservative chair of the women and equalities committee, Caroline Nokes. It also has the backing of the Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who has been praised for speaking publicly about her own experiences of domestic abuse.
Cooper said:“Domestic abuse and stalking destroy lives. There are too many heartbreaking stories of people who have suffered terribly or even lost their lives as a result of domestic abuse or stalking by someone who had committed similar atrocious crimes before.
“That’s why we need much stronger action against serial abusers who go from victim to victim, and arrangements to track and monitor those perpetrators in order to protect future victims and prevent further abuse.
“Serial domestic abuse and stalking offenders should be proactively identified and monitored in the same way that other violent and sexual offenders are. Action must be taken to protect others from them in the future. They must not be allowed to keep reoffending with impunity, wrecking more and more lives.”
Laura Richards, founder of the Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service, said: “I have worked on many cases over the years and the same failures, same patterns repeat. The lessons are never learned.
“Women are being spectacularly failed every day. It is systemic failure and we need urgent law and culture change to focus on the perpetrator’s behaviour.
“I strongly urge the government to look at the evidence base of hundreds of women and girls who have been abused, terrorised, raped and murdered by serial domestic violence offenders and stalkers who were allowed to offend with impunity and ensure this important amendment is supported in the domestic abuse bill. This will save lives.”
Paladin cited further cases where such a change would be pertinent. Linzi Ashton was beaten, strangled and murdered by Michael Cope, who had strangled two previous partners. His repeat pattern of abuse towards women was not joined up.
Justene Reece took her own life after Nicholas Allen coercively controlled her and stalked her relentlessly when she left him. Allen had been convicted for assault and harassment of other women. None of this was joined up. He admitted coercive control, stalking, and manslaughter after she died.