It is now over 30 years since the tragic disappearance of Estate Agent Suzy Lamplugh, who has remained missing ever since.
Suzy, just 25 years old, disappeared on 28th July 1986 whilst out meeting a prospective client in Fulham, South West London. Despite years of leads and investigations, Miss Lamplugh’s body was never found and in 1994, she was officially declared dead, presumably murdered.
It was lunchtime when Suzy left her office to meet ‘Mr Kipper’ who was interested in a property – 37 Shorrolds Road, Fulham – as listed on her employer’s books. But by the end of the working day, when Suzy hadn’t returned, worried colleagues called home to find out her whereabouts. Later that evening, her car was found abandoned, unlocked but no trace of Suzy herself.
It was a crime that shocked the nation. How could a young, professional woman just disappear in a vibrant and busy London suburb in broad daylight? It put into question the safety of those working alone, and not just at night or in secluded or troublesome locations.
Suzy’s legacy remains with us to this day via the charity set up by her parents in her name. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust provides support, advice and education for those who work alone – like Suzy – or victims of stalking.
“Suzy was a confident young woman,” says Paul Lamplugh – a former solicitor and father of Suzy. “She had worked on the QE2 as a hairdresser, travelling the world, and she knew how to manage herself. The problem was she hadn’t been taught how to keep herself safe.” Paul and Diana Lamplugh initially set up the charity in their home to increase awareness in light of Suzy’s tragic disappearance. The trust has since grown over the past 30 years to keep people safe from violence and aggression.
Milestones achieved by the charity include: campaigning for private hire vehicle licensing in London, being instrumental in bringing about the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which dealt with stalkers, producing an award winning video about safe independence for young people and setting up the National Stalking Helpline. This was the world’s first specialist service dedicated to supporting victims of stalking. The Trust has also delivered personal safety training to over 50,000 people since its inception.
At least 144 workers were killed at work and 76,000 others injured in 2015-16, figures from the Health and Safety Executive show.
Sadly, despite many investigations over the years and viable suspects interviewed, there’s never been enough evidence to prosecute. Suzy’s disappearance wasn’t the first or last to happen in the UK, but it was a tragic story that touched the nation’s hearts, opened eyes to the dangers of working alone and gave birth to a legacy that is the esteemed charity. As Paul admits, “I can take comfort from knowing that if Suzy hadn’t disappeared, we wouldn’t have the Trust. And I am very proud of that.”