Press Statement: Regarding the IOPC investigation into North Wales Police’s response to the case of Laura Stuart

Firstly, we would like to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Laura Stuart, our thoughts are with them at this time.

This case is a yet another stark reminder of the devastating impact of domestic abuse. It, again, highlights that it is vital that every opportunity is taken to support anyone impacted by abuse to access protection, support and justice and to prevent perpetrators from continuing their abuse.

We welcome the IOPC investigation identifying the significant need to improve responses by the Police to those reporting abuse as well as the need for the Police to effectively take action to hold perpetrators of abuse to account. We strongly urge North Wales Police to continue to implement organisational learning as set out in the report and hold officers to account when they do not adhere to appropriate practice.

It is vital that all Police forces across Wales have effective training to identify and effectively investigate all incidents of domestic abuse, including coercive controlling behaviour and stalking and harassment, which is at the centre of so many survivors’ experiences of abuse. Welsh Women’s Aid, as the Wales-based training provider for criminal justice system agencies, offers training on all aspects of domestic abuse, coercive control, stalking and harassment to police forces across Wales, in accordance with national requirements.

Domestic abuse is an ongoing pattern of intentional coercive controlling behaviour where one partner uses physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse, threats, intimidation, and a pattern of domination to exert power and maintain control over the other. 85% of survivors of abuse experience coercive control rather than physical assaults alone.[1] Coercive controlling behaviour, including stalking and harassment, is one of the most dangerous form of abuse and can continue to be experienced by survivors after they have left a relationship.

We must work together to enable survivors to access the support and safety when they need it. Central to this must be to listen and respond to survivors disclosing abuse. Any disclosure of abuse must always be treated with the highest priority. The risk posed by stalking and harassing behaviour, whether this is in person or via phone calls, texts or social media must not be downgraded or dismissed.

Anyone affected by domestic abuse, sexual violence or any other form of violence against women in Wales can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or via its webchat provision for 24-hour, confidential information and support, and help to access local services across the country.


Notes to Editors:

  1. For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Gwendolyn Sterk (Head of Public Affairs and Communications) at Welsh Women’s Aid on 02920 541 551 or [email protected]
  2. Welsh Women’s Aid is the lead, national umbrella membership organisation in Wales which represents the views and experiences of specialist Welsh violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services. Our membership comprises 22 independent specialist domestic abuse/violence against women services across Wales which provide a range of front-line services: refuges, community-based outreach, support and advocacy through one stop shops, drop-ins, group-work, independent advocates, and support for children and young people. More information is available at
  3. To donate £3 to Welsh Women’s Aid to help us continue our work to end violence against women and children in Wales please text ‘BLHI37 £3’ to 70070.
  4. Anyone affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence in Wales can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline for 24/7, confidential information and support:

Phone: 0808 80 10 800

Text: 07860077333

Email: [email protected]



[1] E Stark, Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life, Oxford University Press, 2007.