Father to talk about daughter’s murder by stalker during National Safeguarding Week
CLIVE Ruggles will deliver a talk about stalking and coercive control, an issue that led to his daughter’s murder, as part of a programme of events put on by the Cardiff and Vale Regional Safeguarding Board.
During National Safeguarding Week, a five-day period beginning from Monday, November 16, a series of events will take place centred around this year’s theme of social isolation.
Clive’s talk takes place via Microsoft Teams at 10am on Thursday and places are still available to those that would like to attend.
‘My Daughter Alice’ tells the story of Alice Ruggles, who was murdered in horrific circumstances by an ex-boyfriend in 2016 following an intense campaign of stalking.
The police investigation into Alice's case was the subject of an ITV documentary ‘An Hour to Catch a Killer’ and the Channel 5 programme ‘Murdered by my Stalker’, while her story has also featured in a number of radio and television productions.
Along with his wife Sue, friends and other family members, Clive founded the Alice Ruggles Trust, which aims to highlight the failings that led to Alice’s death and prevent a similar tragedy happening again.
“We feel that Alice's death was avoidable,” said Clive.
“So, on the one hand, the Alice Ruggles Trust is about raising awareness among victims of stalking and coercive control so that they seek help and go to the police much earlier than most do -- certainly much earlier than Alice did.
“The other side of the coin is that we have to educate the police, together with other criminal justice and support service professionals, so that ‘the system’ reacts in the right way when a victim does come to them.
“One of the major problems has been a failure to ‘join the dots’ in order to spot a pattern of behaviour that constitutes stalking. Another has been the way that, when stalking was eventually recognised as a specific criminal offence in the UK in 2012, it was appended to an existing law on harassment.
“For this reason, stalking crimes were often recorded and prosecuted as harassment, which does not involve the elements of fixation and obsession with an individual that make stalking so serious.
“A third problem has been a widespread lack of understanding -- both among professionals and the public at large -- of the very serious risks involved in certain types of stalking and the need to manage these effectively through appropriate multi-agency approaches.”
Through his talk, Clive tells Alice's story, moving from the personal to how her case was dealt with, focusing on the lessons that need to be learned.
He reveals the progress that has been made over the last four years and elaborates on the aims and successes of the Trust.
“When telling Alice's story, I draw attention to four things I would like to see change,” said Clive.
“Some things certainly have changed in the four years since Alice's death: for example, police no longer use Police Information Notices (PINs) in stalking cases. Training across many agencies has focused on the need to recognise stalking for what it is and not pass it off as harassment -- the FOUR campaign has been very important in this regard: if the behaviour is Fixated, Obsessive, Unwanted and Repetitive, then it is stalking.
“A very important step was the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders at the beginning of this year, which is it a criminal offence to breach.
“The statistics say it all. One in five women, and one in 10 men, are stalked at some point in their lifetime. 78 per cent of victims exhibit Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. 94 per cent of murders of women were preceded by stalking behaviour.
“Not enough is being done to tackle it. Of course, training and funding are vitally important in the short term and we must do all we can to persuade agencies to prioritise action in this area. But in the longer term, we need to educate a whole generation to recognise that stalking is up there among the very serious crimes that should shock us when we hear mention of them.
“That is why we are focusing our efforts in the Alice Ruggles Trust upon raising awareness among young people: they not only include potential victims and perpetrators but also tomorrow's policy makers, police, lawyers, social workers and health workers. Only when everyone recognises stalking for the vile crime it is, can we hope to bring it to an end.”
Clive Ruggles is an academic and Emeritus Professor at the University of Leicester with expertise in archaeoastronomy, a mix of archaeology and astronomy.
He has made a number of appearances on TV programmes such as ‘The Sky at Night’, ‘Meet the Ancestors’ and ‘Time Team’.
His talk is one of many taking place as part of National Safeguarding Week. Places cane be booked by email.
Information on other events can be found on the regional safeguarding board website.
Anyone who believes they are the victim of stalking should contact the Police on 101.
There are also a number of other services available.