The case of Fiona Pilkington, the 38-year old woman who killed herself and her 18-year-old disabled daughter, Frankie, after years of abuse from local youths in Leicestershire, has shocked the nation—and so naturally, once the story broke, politicians were swift to respond. The home secretary, Alan Johnson, in a speech at the Labour party conference, said that he would use the case to “force” the police to do more to tackle anti-social behaviour. Gordon Brown echoed this in his speech later the same day, assuring “the British people that between now and Christmas, neighbourhood policing will focus in a more direct and intensive way on anti-social behaviour.” Johnson also said that the case showed that tackling anti-social behaviour should be prioritised by police—as it clearly was not in this case: many of Fiona’s pleas to the police for help were not treated with the level of seriousness they deserved.
Clearly anti-social behaviour and the “respect agenda” are popular topics for politicians of all parties, and we should expect to hear more from all of them on the case.
But that’s not enough. Fiona Pilkington and her daughter were targeted, day after day, because Frankie happened to have a learning impairment. The family were taunted and called names, like “disabled bitch,” as well as being pelted with eggs and stones. Neighbours tried to help, but Fiona became so depressed she sat in the dark, fearful of the youths outside. Eventually she drove to a layby, with Frankie next to her, and set her car on fire.