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'Stalker put razor blades in my tyres' MLA tells Stormont

Published 12/09/2016

MLA Clare Bailey told the Assembly she had been targeted by a stalker
MLA Clare Bailey told the Assembly she had been targeted by a stalker

An Assembly member has revealed that a stalker stuck razor blades in her car tyres, causing them to blow up on the school run.

Clare Bailey outlined details of the ordeal after a Stormont debate on the lack of specific legislation to combat stalking in Northern Ireland.

The Green Party NI deputy leader and MLA for South Belfast claimed she received an inadequate response from the police when she reported her experience.

"I had razor blades stuck in my car tyres, which caused the tyres to blow up after dropping my children to school," she said.

"I decided then to report the stalking to the police, but response was 'What do you want us to do about it?' I couldn't answer their question but I didn't report any further incidences.

"It is disappointing that in 2016, we are continuing to fail to take the crime of stalking seriously, leaving victims and their families to struggle alone until something more serious occurs."

Assembly members from all sides of the house backed a DUP motion calling for beefed up measures to crack down on stalking in the region.

Tabling the motion, the DUP's Brenda Hale said she also had experience of being stalked.

She described it as a "hidden crime".

"It is terrifying and can result in psychological harm and, in more serious cases, physical harm," she said.

"I, along with my colleagues, am calling on the Minister of Justice to look into the seriousness of stalking and to conclude that legislation should be introduced to safeguard the victims of stalking in Northern Ireland.

"This is something I have had the anxiety of dealing with myself, and I have a number of constituents who are currently trying to protect themselves from stalkers."

Mrs Hale outlined the experience of one of those constituents - Vicky Clarke - to the chamber.

"Every day I woke up with a feeling of dread, knowing no matter what was ahead I could see him, or he would follow me," she quoted.

"It was like a very heavy black cloud following me everywhere I went. Only I could see it."

Responding to the debate, Justice Minister Claire Sugden said she was minded to consider fresh legislation if necessary.

"As Justice Minister, I am keen to ensure that the criminal law in Northern Ireland is fit for purpose and that we learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions, where such laws can make a difference for the better," she said.

"I have already asked my officials to review the existing laws on stalking here and elsewhere and to report to me on the need for the introduction of additional legislation to safeguard victims of stalking in this jurisdiction."

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