The family and friends of a young equestrian believed to have been killed by a man she knew are calling on the Government to provide more funding for victims of stalking.
Gracie Spinks, 23, was found fatally injured in the field in which she kept her horse, in Derbyshire, on 18 June. Police believe she was killed by Michael Sellers, 35, who was found dead in a nearby field on the same morning.
Derbyshire Police referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is investigating contact between the force and Gracie before her death.
A petition, backed by Gracie’s family, has since been launched on the Government website to provide more funding for stalking advocates, to help support victims of stalking, which “should also help the police to investigate cases more thoroughly, potentially helping prevent threats to life”.
Jackie Barnett-Wheatcroft, who started the petition, has also started a Gracie’s Law Facebook page.
“Gracie Spinks sadly lost her life at the hands of a stalker; had provisions been made available; this may never have happened,” she said.
“This is an issue that has or could affect anyone we know and love all over the world, but alas, we can only work on making a change in the UK.
“Together we can make these changes happen.”
Jackie told H&H she had had enough of hearing about such attacks, on people going about their business, and wondered what she could do to help.
She researched the laws on stalking, and prosecution guidance, and found the Stalking Protection Act 2019 is robust.
“It just needs to be followed,” she said, adding that stalking is often dealt with as harassment, which carries less weight. She explained that it is up to police to apply for stalking protection orders.
“It’s always going to come down to money, which is why I asked for more funding for stalking advocates, as that’s what’s missing,” Jackie said. “If they had more manpower and funding, they’d be able to investigate complaints thoroughly.”
The petition currently has more than 46,000 signatures. The Government has responded, as it must when any petition is signed by 10,000 people, to say it has provided extra funding to help support victims, but if it reaches 100,000 signatures, it has to be considered for a parliament debate.
“This could be your daughter, your son, your mum or dad,” Jackie said. “It could be anyone, and we need better protection.”
A statement from the IOPC said: “We understand Ms Spinks, 23, made contact with Derbyshire Police in February to make an allegation of stalking and that officers spoke to her and the man whose behaviour she had reported.
“Our investigation will consider whether the police investigation into the matter was carried out in line with all relevant policies and guidance, as well as whether the force met all its safeguarding obligations to Ms Spinks.
“We will also look into the actions and decision-making of police following the discovery of bag containing weapons by a member of the public in May this year. It was found close to where Ms Spinks died several weeks later. The discovery was reported to the force.”
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