Denise Welch says she endured ‘terrifying’ stalking as she condemns government for not introducing serial stalkers and domestic abusers register

Exclusive: ‘It was terrifying to know that somebody knew where you lived and was prepared to invade your space,’ says actor

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
@mayaoppenheim
Wednesday 28 April 2021 19:01
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<p>Welch was in bed with her husband when a man armed with a knife turned up at their home before the police were called out and he was arrested</p>

Welch was in bed with her husband when a man armed with a knife turned up at their home before the police were called out and he was arrested

Denise Welch has said she was subjected to “terrifying” stalking and it is “frightening” not knowing why the alleged stalker targeted her.

The 62-year-old actor, known for her roles in Coronation Street and Hollyoaks, said she was in bed with her husband Lincoln Townley when a man armed with a knife turned up at their home.

Ms Welch told The Independent it was scary to learn an individual knew where she lived and “was prepared” to “invade” her private space. In her first interview about the incident, the actor hit out at the government’s decision not to introduce a register for serial high-risk perpetrators of stalking and domestic abuse this week.

The TV star, who often appears on Loose Women, said: “Yet again it doesn’t appear the government is doing as much as they can to tackle crimes against women. They promised things would change after Sarah Everard’s death but yet again we see these issues overlooked.

“My husband and I have been victim to a terrifying stalking incident. Because of legal reasons, I can’t talk in specific terms about my case, because it doesn’t go to court until later in the year.

“Often people are stalked by an ex-lover or someone they know. In our case, we have no idea and that is frightening. It was terrifying to know that somebody knew where you lived and was prepared to invade your space.”

She said she was “too frightened to talk too much” about it and the alleged stalking has made her suddenly feel “incredibly vulnerable”.

Ms Welch explained the ordeal has impacted her sleep - adding that she experiences major depressive disorder so was anxious it would be triggered, but fortunately it has not due to the support she has received from her husband and a harm reduction unit.

“I would absolutely support a database,” she said. “We don’t know why we have been targeted. But the suspect is on charges which are in the public domain for arson, carrying a knife and stalking.”

She said the alleged incident had unfolded while she has been filming a series for the Crime and Investigation Channel about violence towards women.

Ms Welch, who lives in Cheshire, added: “It has made me aware of how much these women have been let down by the system and how we need to do more to protect women moving forward.

“But we should be building on the specialist advocacy support only available in certain pockets of the UK.

“I happen to be in that pocket where the support emotionally for Lincoln and me has been incredible. But you talk to someone one county away and they would be in a completely different situation.”

Her comments come after The Independent revealed a government U-turn on plans to place serial domestic abuse and stalking perpetrators on the existing violent and sexual offenders register and monitor them in the same way that serious sex offenders are.

The Lords twice voted for such proposals to be introduced via the landmark domestic abuse bill which is expected to get royal assent this week four years after it was first promised in the Queen’s Speech.

Ministers have instead pledged to improve statutory guidance within existing mechanisms for keeping tabs on high-risk offenders to better encompass serial perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking. The move followed mounting pressure from cross-party MPs, lords, campaigners and experts.

Laura Richards, a former top Metropolitan Police violent crime analyst, told The Independent: “I still have grave reservations about the new statutory guidance changing the culture.

“But we will monitor and watch very carefully whether this fixes the problem and we will bring it back for law change if we don’t see a decrease in murders of women and or an increase in serial perpetrator cases being heard at Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement (MAPPA).

“The stakes are high. The clock is ticking. We know a woman is murdered every three days by a man and every four days by a current or former male partner. Now the government has to deliver.”

Ms Richards also noted 18 women have been killed by men since the Sarah Everard protests erupted in mid March - saying the figures originate from a project started by Karen Ingala Smith called Counting Dead Women.

The expert, who has been calling for a serial offenders register since 2004, noted that while they “did not get exactly” what they wanted, “significant gains” had been made such as domestic abuse and stalking specialist services to be included at MAPPA.

MAPPA - which consists of the National Probation Service, the prison service and police forces - monitors dangerous sexual and violent offenders in England and Wales.

Countdown’s Rachel Riley recently toldThe Independent she will hold the government personally responsible for the next death from domestic abuse if it fails to introduce a register for serial offenders.

She warned deeply entrenched misogyny and myths about domestic abuse pervade the criminal justice system and ministers failed to follow through on promises to tackle violence against women after Everard’s killing.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, suggested the government would look again at creating a national register of repeat abusers last month but the government has backtracked.

A spokesperson for the Home Office previously denied there was any “u-turn” and said they had never fully committed to a national register. A representative for the government department has been contacted for comment.

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