Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, a stalking victim herself, has announced that she has secured £98,000 from the Government to set up a pioneering intervention programme, working with perpetrators of stalking.
The initiative, the first of its kind for Sussex, will aim to improve responses to stalking across the criminal justice system and the health sector, working with private mental healthcare providers to develop a bespoke intervention for stalking perpetrators.
Stalking is a relentless crime driven by fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated behaviours that causes prolonged suffering for victims. On average, stalking campaigns last for up to two years and, because research shows that 94% of domestic homicides were preceded by stalking behaviour, it is vitally important to prevent these crimes from escalating.
Sussex Police and partners have led the way in responding to stalking with a 300% increase in victim referrals over the last five years and police officers already issuing 29 Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) since they were first introduced in January, the highest in the country.
An SPO can also mandate that a perpetrator attends a behavioural-change programme, but this is not currently possible because there are no appropriate intervention programmes in place. PCC Katy Bourne’s proposed solution will fill this gap in the criminal justice response.
She says: “Stalkers display complex characteristics that are, arguably, unlike that of any other type of perpetrator. The fixated nature of a stalker demonstrates a deep-rooted, psychological obsession with their victim that we know a usual criminal justice sanction won’t always deter or stop.
“Previous research has found that over half of stalking perpetrators go on to re-offend, repeatedly breaching court orders put in place to protect their victims.
“I’m pleased that we have been successful in our bid for funding so that we can begin to identify and properly address the root causes of stalking behaviours and fill the current gaps in our response to these heinous crimes.”