People

Bella Mackie on how privilege and “luck” should not be factors in a stalking conviction

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
Published
Bella Mackie on stalking.

Women still don’t feel confident enough in reporting stalking cases. That’s why Bella Mackie’s comments on the recent Emily Maitlis case are such an important read. 

Over 80% of stalking victims in the UK are women. In fact, an estimated 1.3 million women experience domestic abuse per year, according to the crime survey for England and Wales. And victims don’t tend to report a case until they experience the 100th incident

That’s probably in part down to the fact that police were recently found to be putting domestic abuse victims at risk by not investigating or recording complaints correctly. And while the number of stalking incidents has increased, the percentage of prosecution rates fell in 2018.

But there has been some progress made in ensuring that victims get the support they need in cases. 

You may also like

Stalking laws: “I was stalked by my ex, but people mistook it for romantic flattery”

Last month, a change in UK stalking laws meant that suspected stalkers under police investigation can no longer contact their victims. Police are now able to apply to magistrates for a Stalking Protection Order (SPO), which will usually remain in place for two years. Courts will also have the power to impose an interim SPO to provide immediate protection for victims while a decision is being made. And the orders will also be able to force stalkers to seek professional help.

The recent news of a high-profile case involving Emily Maitlis highlights how important it is to keep pushing for more protection of victims. The stalker, who has harassed Newsnight presenter Maitlis for two decades, has just been sentenced for breaching a restraining order for the 12th time.

You may also like

Woman rejects police apology after they failed to respond to her 125 reports of stalking

Responding to this news, Jog On author Bella Mackie – who has briefly spoken out about her own stalking experience before – made a very valid point about the role that privilege plays in getting a conviction. 

Taking to Twitter, she retweeted an article about Miatlis, writing: “This man has been stalking Maitlis since she was at uni and he’s repeatedly shown he doesn’t give a shit about restraining orders. Her life will have been immeasurably changed by this hell. Stalking laws are not strict enough.”

She contineued: “I was stalked for three months and it felt like a fucking lifetime. Did warnings stop him? No. Police approach was patchy as hell until my MP stepped in. One officer asked if I’d dated the man (as if it would then be warranted). Another told me to get my dad to buy a baseball bat.

“It always seemed fairly clear to me that the only reason I eventually got proper help was because my family were middle class and pushy about it. AND I was lucky – when my stalker got out of prison he didn’t contact me. But I still worry he will.

“I feel so so so sorry for Emily Maitlis, she has endured decades of this. It’s got to be handled better. There were cuts to the main stalking clinic a few years back so I’m not hopeful. Ugh I can’t even be coherent with my thoughts on this.”

Bella Mackie
Bella Mackie on Twitter and mental health.

Of course, as Mackie’s experience shows, no amount of privilege can exempt a person from feeling the fear, anxiety and worry that comes with being a stalking victim. 

But her words do prompt the question: would women without the same amount of emotional and financial support, and knowledge of the law, feel confident enough to report a case?

Sign up for our essential edit of what to buy, see, read and do, and also receive our 11-page Ultimate Guide To Making Your Home Feel Bigger.

If you need to speak to somebody about stalking and harassment, here are a few helplines to contact:

National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300, stalkinghelpline.org

Scared of Someone?: scaredofsomeone.org

Women’s Aid Federation of England: 0808 2000 247, womensaid.org.uk

Images: Greg James, Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

Recommended by Hollie Richardson

People

Lily Allen speaks out about her terrifying stalking ordeal

The singer says that police were unsupportive, even when her stalker broke into her house with a knife

Posted by
Moya Crockett
Published
Long Reads

“I was stalked by my ex, but people mistook it for romantic flattery”

Rom-coms tell us that being pursued is the sign of true romantic love. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Posted by
Katie Bishop
Published
Life

Finally, the first domestic abuse commissioner has been appointed

Nicole Jacobs has announced her new role.

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
Published