Devon and Cornwall Police’s approach to tackling stalking and harassment and protecting victims has been completely overhauled, following the tragic death of Kerry Power who was murdered in Plymouth in December 2013.
Following her death and the trial in which David Wilder pled guilty to the murder of Miss Power and was subsequently jailed for life, a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) was undertaken to help identify risks and improve standards of service to victims of stalking.
The recommendations of the DHR were made available to the Force and the family of Miss Power in 2019. These along with recommendations adopted from the HMIC ‘Living in Fear’ report published in 2017, which relates directly to stalking and harassment, has underpinned the Force’s change and improvement to victims of stalking.
The review has been published during National Stalking Awareness Week – aimed at helping and supporting those subjected to stalking and signposting where help can be gained.
Detective Superintendent Ben Deer said: “We acknowledge the findings and recommendations made within the Domestic Homicide Review that has recently been published, which focusses on the death of Kerry Power which took place in 2013.
“This death was a tragic case and our thoughts firmly remain with the family and friends of Miss Power.
“A significant amount of work has been undertaken by the Force prior to the Domestic Homicide Review being published including a Force-led 17-point action plan completed in 2016 into how we both tackle stalking and harassment and manage these incidents.
“All of the recommendations made within the recently published DHR have been, and continue to be, addressed by the work which we have been undertaking since 2016 to focus on stalking offenders and prevention of offending. Changes have been made and we believe that as a result, will reduce the likelihood of something like this ever happening again.
“Whilst this report naturally focusses on Miss Power and actions taken to protect and safeguard victims of stalking and harassment, it’s vital that we don’t lose focus on who is responsible for these crimes; in the vast majority of cases that is men stalking and harassing women. This behaviour is the wholly unacceptable and Devon & Cornwall Police are committed to investigating these crimes and bringing the offenders to justice whenever possible.”
As part of Devon and Cornwall Police’s commitment to tackling stalking and harassment, the Force have implemented Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) which were introduced at the start of the 2020, and are now regularly considered and, if appropriate, applied for via the courts to assist us in reducing the risk to potential victims.
The Force continue to work closely with a number of partners, experts and charities both local and national to help increase understanding of this type of crime and its impact upon its victims. We have implemented an overhaul in policy which has seen the Force adopt recommendations published within the HMIC ‘Living in Fear’ report published in 2017, which has led to improved early identification of risks and a better standard of service to victims of stalking.
The Force also has the advocacy of a Violence Against Woman and Children Independent Advisory Group to call upon for support, learning and reflection.
Det Supt Deer added: “Stalking and harassment is now embedded in training of all recruits including PCSO’s, Special Constabulary, detectives, supervisors and managers across the force. We have also overseen a complete overhaul within the control room over how reports relating to stalking and harassment are reviewed and managed; There are now designated Stalking Single Point Of Contact (SPOCs) in the Incident Resolution Centre (IRC) to identify stalking and refer cases appropriately.
“Whilst these actions won’t bring Kerry Power back, it does mean that her death isn’t in vain. This case has led to significant change and a root and branch review into how the police tackle cases of stalking and harassment within Devon and Cornwall.
“All of our learning and training in this area is done with Kerry in mind, and I wish to extend my personal thanks to the Power Family for the fortitude they have shown in sticking with the process to ensure the learning highlighted within the report was acted upon.
“Lastly, If you are a victim of stalking or harassment, please find the courage to reach out and to contact the police; you will be believed, you will be supported, and we do all in our power to help you.”
Specialist practical and emotional help for victims of domestic abuse is provided by the Devon and Cornwall Victim Care Unit and Victim Support.
The Victim Care Unit can be contacted on 01392 475900 or victimcaredevonandcornwall.