VICTIM BIDS TO REFORM LAW
Claire Waxman was stalked for 10 years. Her bill to help those affected by crime could become law
A MOTHER of two is helping to draft a new law in an attempt to end the “lottery” that dictates how victims of crime are treated by police, courts and prosecutors.
Claire Waxman said she felt forced to act on behalf of those who have been affected by criminal activity after she suffered a decade of harassment at the hands of a stalker.
The Victims of Crime Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday by former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer, now Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras.
Ms Waxman hopes its proposals — which include increased access to compensation — will be quickly adopted by the government. “It’s still a long journey,” she said, “but we are pushing at an open door.”
Elliot Fogel has been jailed repeatedly for stalking Ms Waxman and her family. The pair had first met as Jewish students at St Albans College in 1991. After completing their studies there was no contact between them until Fogel sent Ms Waxman flowers in 2003. He then began a campaign of harassment that lasted 10 years.
Fogel was jailed again in April, for three years and six months, for breaching a lifetime restraining order.
Ms Waxman founded the campaign group Voice 4 Victims after her ordeal, and said her experience of the criminal justice system meant she was ideally placed to lead the initiative.
She said: “I’ve had the experience of six prosecutions and that’s given me a greater understanding of what victims are getting when they come into the system. It really depends on who you get. It’s a lottery. The type of police officer who takes your complaint and how well they are trained — that could be a good experience or a bad one.”
Ms Waxman, from northwest London, wants the new legislation to make it easier for victims to report crimes and provide alter natives that could help them avoid going to a police station.
She said: “My idea is to bring in a case companion. It’s so difficult to navigate the system; there are so many loopholes and gaps, you can easily get lost. There are delays. It’s not cost-effective.
“A case companion could tell the victim what to expect and help them along the way. It’s a daunting and traumatic experience. You can be traumatised by not having that support.
“We want to hold these agencies to account. The way victims are treated can often cause more harm than the original abuse. People do not want to report crime because they have heard how bad it is when they go to court.”
The bill, which has cross-party support, will be discussed in the Commons again on December 4.
‘Going to the police is a lottery. It all depends on the type of officer you get’
Stalker Elliot Fogel