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Domestic homicide review into death of Alice Ruggles

A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) into the unlawful killing of Alice Ruggles, who was tragically stalked and subsequently murdered by her ex-partner in Gateshead in October 2016, has been published.

Domestic Homicide Reviews are carried out when the death of a person aged 16 or over has resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by someone in their household.

Gateshead Community Safety Board has the responsibility for commissioning these reviews in the borough, which are carried out by an independent chair.

The review process aims to identify any lessons that could be learned from the death. Twenty recommendations have been made for national, regional and local bodies to help prevent similar incidents from happening again in the future. Alice's family have indicated strong support for these recommendations.

On the request of Alice's family and with the agreement of Gateshead Community Safety Board, the report is not anonymised.

Cllr Angela Douglas, Chair of Gateshead Community Safety Board, said:

"The Board would like to express its condolences to Alice's family for their tragic loss. I am confident that, together with our partner agencies and alongside Alice's family, we can use the findings from this review to further improve our collective response to victims of domestic abuse and stalking.

"Following Alice's death, there is emerging evidence of positive change at a local level, where we have seen a marked increase in the volume of recorded stalking offences, and nationally, significant action at Parliamentary level. I am pleased that the Alice Ruggles Trust, set up by Alice's family to raise awareness of stalking, is already making a huge difference and I am encouraged by their response.

"We know anyone can be stalked and we collectively need to be better equipped and confident to recognise the signs to help put a stop to this distressing crime. Together we must take the threat and harm posed by stalking seriously at a leadership, frontline and community level to help bring stalking to an end.

"I am pleased that the Home Office has noted the review was thorough, robust and sensitively written and would like to thank the Independent Chair Stuart Douglass, report author Adam Lindridge and the DHR panel for their efforts."

Stuart Douglass, Independent Chair of the Alice Ruggles Domestic Homicide Review Panel, said:

"As Independent Chair of this review I am satisfied that the review Panel has had full co-operation and input from agencies who had contact with Alice in the period preceding her tragic death.

"Improvement and learning within the statutory expectations of the Home Office have been the primary focus of our work.

"The experience of Alice gives us all a powerful account of the impact of stalking and coercive control, and this would not have been possible without the support and insight of Alice's family, friends and work colleagues. Their input has given this review a window into the debilitating impact, escalating risk, and significant danger posed by perpetrators to stalking victims.  

"The report's findings and recommendations require national and local ownership, awareness and action.

"I am confident that Gateshead Community Safety Board and its partners will work with the Alice Ruggles Trust and progress the findings and recommendations with the priority and rigor they require." 

Statement from Alice's family

"Alice died in tragic circumstances and it is important to us that her story is not forgotten. It is equally important that failings are acknowledged, lessons learned, and improvements made so that if similar situations arise in the future they may have better outcomes. 

"We are heartened by the attention to detail in this report and the range of recommendations it makes. We are also encouraged that in the two and half years since Alice's murder many of the issues raised are already being addressed: for example, many police forces have stopped using PINs, and have begun to train specialists and front-line officers in recognising and dealing with stalking cases.

"We hope that the Army will now realise that they have an important part to play when one of their soldiers is accused of criminal behaviour against a civilian and, like other agencies, will proceed to learn lessons from Alice's case."

The Alice Ruggles Trust

The Alice Ruggles Trust is a charitable organisation set up by Alice's family which is designed to increase awareness and understanding of stalking.