Gracie's Law: What is the stalking petition and when will it be debated in Parliament?

The family of Gracie Spinks insist that they won’t rest until more funding is assigned to stalking resources.

By Rachael Davies
Monday, 31st January 2022, 9:45 am

Here’s all you need to know about the campaign in Gracie’s name following her death.

Gracie, aged 23 was found fatally injured in a field where she went to look after her horse on Friday June 18.

Friends of Ms Spinks told the police that she had been stalked by a former colleague, Michael Sellers, prior to her death.

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Tributes poured in for the much-loved 23-year-old, who was described as 'beautiful', 'wonderful' and someone who 'lived life to the fullest'. The Gracie's Law petition was also set up in a bid to tackle stalking. Investigations - including a probe by the Independent Office for Police Conduct - are continuing into the circumstances surrounding Gracie's death.

Sellers was also found dead shortly afterwards.

Ms Spinks had previously contacted Derbyshire Police to complain about Sellers.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is continuing to investigate Derbyshire Constabulary following Gracie's death.

What is Gracie’s Law?

Parents of Gracie Spinks - Richard Spinks and Alison Heaton.

Due to Ms Spinks reporting the activity of Sellers, Gracie’s Law is the name associated with the petition to allocate more funding to investigating stalking claims.

The petition was initially set up by local nurse Jackie Barnett-Wheatcroft who was also stalked herself as a teenager.

Gracie’s Law is also backed up by Ms Spinks’ family, including her parents.

Ms Spinks was killed just a few months after reporting the activity of Sellers to the police.

Chesterfield's much-loved Gracie Spinks. Pictures kindly provided by her family.

Her family and campaigners around the petition have referred to the proposed law changes as part of Ms Spinks’ legacy to help protect future women.

What is the stalking petition related to Gracie Spinks?

The online petition calls on more funding to be given to investigating stalking cases and supporting victims of stalking.

"The Government should provide more funding for stalking advocates for victims of stalking,” the petition reads. “This would help support victims, and should also help the police to investigate cases more thoroughly, potentially helping prevent threats to life.

Gracie Spinks was stabbed to death in June

“Funding increased provision of stalking advocates should prevent further harm from stalkers to their victims, including death. This should help prevent unnecessary distress and suffering to victims and their families.”

The Gracie’s Law debate is scheduled to take place in Westminster Hall from 4.30pm on Monday.

The online petition exceeded 100,000 signatures earlier this month, guaranteeing it a Parliamentary debate.

When the petition exceeded 100,000 signatures, Gracie’s family told the Derbyshire Times: “We hope that through Gracie’s Law and her legacy we can make changes for stalking victims, and have an ongoing legacy in Gracie’s name."

People are being urged to write to their local MP to ask that they attend and support the debate.

What is stalking in legal terms?

There is no strict legal definition of stalking, but stalking behaviour includes following a person, forcing contact with them (either in person or online), or watching them.

Harassment changes are also often associated with stalking, which includes causing alarm or distress to the individual.

Under the Protection from Harassment Act of 1977, there are a number of stalking-related charges that can be prosecuted.

These include a maximum of six months' imprisonment and/or a level 5 fine for harassment and stalking, a maximum of ten years' imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment for fear of violence.

Contact the police if you’re being stalked - you have a right to feel safe in your home and workplace.

Contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4pm (except Wednesday 9:30am to 8pm)