Calls for conviction rate leap on stalking

Tragic family: John and Penny Clough, parents of Jane (below) who was murdered by a stalking ex-boyfriend
Tragic family: John and Penny Clough, parents of Jane (below) who was murdered by a stalking ex-boyfriend

The father of tragic nurse Jane Clough is convinced more can be done to improve conviction rates for stalking.

But John Clough, whose daughter was stabbed to death aged 26 by ex-partner Johnathan Vass in the grounds of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, believes the offence is still ‘trivialised’.

Jane Clough family pics. (s)

Jane Clough family pics. (s)

Vass was jailed over the July 2010 murder.

The police investigation later uncovered that Vass had stalked Jane in the months leading up to her death without her knowledge.

Mr Clough said: “I think that the conviction rate is still too low.

“And as far as sentencing is concerned, it is not being treated as seriously as it deserves to be.

“There are still too many ‘slap on the wrist’ sentences – this is an offence which can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

“But it is still an offence which is being trivialised.

“There was an article just the other day where Gary Barlow was tweeting, saying he would go and sing at the wedding of whoever stalked him the most.

“It is just not appropriate.”

John and his wife Penny were invited to a reception at Number 10 Downing Street by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson.

The invitation last week included a personal tour of the building. Mr Clough said: “It was a real privilege – we were invited to Number 10 two years ago, when it was announced that stalking was going to be made a criminal offence, but this much more extensive.” The Clough’s campaign has so far amassed more than 122,000 signatures and they are anxious to secure a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May on the issue.

One of their principal aims now is to lobby for the creation of a stalkers’ register, using a similar process as the Sex Offender’s Register, which would be open to qualified professionals and interested parties.

Mr Clough feels that as the framework already exists under the current register there should not be a financial obstacle to extending the system to incorporate stalking offences.