Pushing boundaries on the fifth anniversary of the stalking laws

Date: 25 November 2018

stalking image small v2

It’s been five years to the day that stalking became illegal across the country.

While there is extraordinary work going on to support the 1.1 million victims of stalking in England and Wales each year, partners in Cheshire, Hampshire and London are pushing the boundaries of what we know about a crime, which can devastate the lives of its victims.

Stalking is a pattern of unwanted behaviour that causes alarm and distress to people, and we are working hard to better protect victims whilst working to reduce stalking behaviours.

The Multi Agency Stalking Intervention Programme (MASIP), managed by Suzy Lamplugh Trust and funded by the Home Office, is a pilot project to test three different intervention models for stalking. Importantly, each service combines the differing skills and expertise of police investigation, psychological analysis and victim advocacy to ensure the best response to this insidious crime.

Stalking is a serious crime affecting 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 across their lifetime. 30%-40% of cases include violence, whilst a study by University of Gloucestershire, published by Suzy Lamplugh Trust in 2017, found 94% of femicides featured stalking in the year prior to the victim being killed.

Through our work we aim to:

  • reduce reoffending and improve public safety;
  • increase early intervention, focussing on reducing the overall incidence of stalking and levels of fixation and obsession;
  • improve the response to victims of stalking, ensuring they receive consistently high-quality service and improving victims’ satisfaction with police and across the Criminal Justice System;
  • reduce risk by improving the capabilities of police and partner agencies to manage risk in cases of stalking;
  • enhance communication and relationships between the police and other local services to respond effectively to the risk, harm and vulnerability posed by stalking cases;
  • capture, analyse and share data on the results of different perpetrator intervention strategies, which will inform strategies (and be applied if successful) across all 43 force areas.

Cheshire Anti-Stalking Unit

This new unit – chaired and coordinated by a detective police officer – provides a framework for agencies and professionals to share information and expertise about stalking perpetrators to manage identified risks presented to the victim.

The Unit aims to manage risk to the victim and perpetrator behaviour to reduce reoccurrence, persistence, imminence, severity and the range of stalking behaviours. Management strategies combine the expertise of a range of partners with the primary aim of protecting the victim.

Hampshire Recolo Project

Hampshire’s Recolo Project builds on the expert Hampshire Stalking Clinic model by providing direct treatment to stalkers and support to other agencies involved in their care. The Recolo Project clinicians conduct a comprehensive assessment of the perpetrator and risk factors which underlie the stalking behaviour.  This enables clinicians to identify the interventions needed to reduce the risk they pose.  The team either support the individual to access these from existing services or provide them directly.  

Detective Chief Inspector Suzette Allcorn said: “I am really pleased that we are part of the Recolo Project to further enhance our response to stalking and harassment. For many years now, Hampshire have been leading the way nationally in our response to stalking, and we launched the first multi-agency stalking clinic in the country.

“The Hampshire Stalking Clinic sees psychologists, psychiatrists, police, probation, the Crown Prosecution Service and a dedicated victim advocate come together to manage the unique risks posed by stalking.

“The Recolo Project will allow us to build on the work of the clinic. It enables a more holistic approach to be taken, as criminal sanctions in isolation may not always resolve stalking behaviour.”

London’s Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (STAC)

The proof of concept model has established a new centre of excellence – the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre – sited in a police environment with probation, health, and advocate representatives present daily.

This centre reviews incoming cases on a daily basis, with referrals coming in police reports, mental health teams in London Boroughs as well as from Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Risk assessments are carried out, priority levels assigned (standard, medium, high) and management plans put in place: perpetrators may be referred into other community services (such as local mental health, drug and alcohol or other support services) or they may be referred for intervention at the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre. This intervention programme has been developed by Dr Frank Farnham, from Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, and is overseen by Dr Farnham, consultant forensic psychiatrist at the National Stalking Clinic, and staffed with two nurses, one nurse manager, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, supported by a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer and a probation officer.

Clare Elcombe Webber, Manager of the National Stalking Helpline commented: “Within STAC the role of the advocate is key to keeping the victim’s voice and experience at the centre of all decision making. Working closely with all partners – and external professionals – we ensure that managing the risk to the victim and any future victims is the core aim of all actions.  Our advocates engage with victims in various ways depending on the individual’s circumstances, needs, and level of vulnerability, This may be inputting into case consultancy, providing case management advice to other professionals, giving one-off advice to the victim, or working more intensively with them over a period of time to manage their risk and advocate on their behalf with the various professionals involved in their case.

MASIP is a vitally important project and one that we, and Suzy Lamplugh Trust, is proud to be a part of.”

  • Summary:

    It’s been five years to the day that stalking became illegal across the country.

    While there is extraordinary work going on to support the 1.1 million victims of stalking in England and Wales each year, partners in Cheshire, Hampshire and London are pushing the boundaries of what we know about a crime, which can devastate the lives of its victims.