The police and other organisations are better at tackling stalking by (ex) partners) but support for victims is still below par, a report by justice ministry inspectors has concluded.
The report is a follow-up to the murder of a 16-year-old school girl who was killed by her ex boyfriend in 2018. An official report into the murder said the police and social services showed ‘serious shortfalls’ in the way they protected Hümeyra Ergincanli, after she reported being threatened.
She was due to meet police to talk about being stalked just 45 minutes before she was killed.
The case had “a big impact” on the organisations involved, Thursday’s report said, and efforts were made to improve cooperation and protective measures for victims. However, although more restraining orders are being issued, they are not always monitored properly by police.
Nor do police and the public prosecutor’s office have designated staff in place to handle reports.
“For victims it is important to be able to talk to one person who will answer questions and give information,” police chief Peter Neuteboom told broadcaster NOS. “That is exactly what went wrong in Hümeyra’s case.”
Victims told the inspectorate that they are not kept properly informed following a report and during the handling of the case by police and the prosecution office. The lack of support makes them lose faith in the authorities, the inspectorate said.
Organisations also need more specialist knowledge about stalking, the inspectorate said, and is calling on the government to increase funding for training.
Victim support group Slachtofferhulp said in a reaction that the report did not bode well for victims.
“It looks as if combating stalking is benefitting from a new approach but in many cases this doesn’t mean victims are getting the help they need,” spokesman Roy Heerkens told the broadcaster. Risk assessment methods are being used by police but not “consistently”, he said.
Some 3,600 people reported being stalked in 2021 but the organisations involved say the figures are probably higher because stalking is often registered as a case of threatening behaviour or (domestic) violence.
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