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Stalking and Harassment

Volume 590: debated on Tuesday 6 January 2015

5. What steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to ensure that prosecutors are able more effectively to prosecute stalking and harassment cases. (906837)

Most recently, a joint police and CPS protocol on stalking was launched in September last year. The CPS legal guidance has also been revised to reflect this development, and training has been provided to prosecutors on the new stalking offences. Prosecutions for these offences have increased by more 20% in the last year.

My constituent, Jane Clough, a nurse at Blackpool Victoria hospital, was murdered in 2010 by her stalker, Jonathan Vass, who stabbed her 71 times and then slit her throat in the hospital car park. Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that stalking is a serious offence that often leads to even more serious crimes?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, and I pay tribute to him for his work with Mr and Mrs John and Penny Clough, Jane’s parents. In fact, their work on the Justice for Jane campaign and the dignity with which they have conducted themselves in order to achieve important changes in the law is a real exemplar of how to achieve something positive from something so appalling.

Between November 2012 and June 2014, 1,447 CPS lawyers completed the cyber-crime cyber-stalking course, which was developed by the CPS for all prosecutors. However, in a written answer from the Solicitor-General in October 2014, I was advised that a lower figure now applied. Will he please give us an update on the progress of how many CPS lawyers are undertaking this very important training?

May I in a very gentle way say that lawyers’ questions and answers tend to be learned and lucid, but also rather long? Perhaps the Solicitor-General can disprove the trend.

The right hon. Gentleman and I share a continuing interest in, and passion for, reforming the law on stalking and harassment and ensuring that implementation is carried out. I am able to update him. As of 31 December last year, 1,402 CPS employees had undergone the training.