It took one woman being stabbed by her stalker for police to finally take her complaints seriously. Helen Pearson has rejected the police's apology for the way they handled her case as "meaningless".
The 34-year-old was left with neck and face wounds after being attacked by stalker Joseph Willis, 50, with a pair of scissors in 2013 – despite her having reported his behaviour to police 125 times.
Devon and Cornwall Police subsequently apologised to Pearson for its shambolic handling of the case but she said it was too little, too late, as she was "still suffering every day because of what happened," the BBC reported.
"All I can hope is that what happened to me means police officers get more training and deal with victims of stalking better – so that no-one else has to go through what I did," she said.
Willis, Pearson's neighbour, subjected her to a torrent of abuse between 18th January 2009 and 21st October 2013 when she was attacked, including threatening letters and abusive graffiti near her home calling for her to "die". He was jailed for life for attempted murder in 2014.
Following the stabbing, which took place in an Exeter graveyard, the police admitted its "investigation and victim care did not meet the high standards we expect", reported the BBC.
The force's Professional Standards Department said it had found three officers guilty of misconduct, one of whom had already retired. Two others received “management guidance and advice”.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer offered a personal apology to Pearson and her family, and "numerous changes" in the force's stalking investigations have reportedly been made since the attack, including improved training for officers.
However, Alexis Bowater, former chief executive of Network for Surviving Stalking, said police still routinely fail to take reports of stalking seriously. "They call it murder in slow motion," she said. "Taking stalking seriously is murder prevention."