Victims of stalking and harassment will now receive additional expert support thanks to Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster.
Two new Stalking Advocate positions have been funded for the next three years.
Earlier this year, the Commissioner provided the resources for an internal Stalking Coordinator for Derbyshire Constabulary. This position, which has now been filled, is a key part of her pledge to ensure all victims of crime receive appropriate support.
Reports of stalking show a sharp increase in cases during lockdown – 95 per cent of which involved victims of domestic abuse. This is partly due to the better recording processes set by Derbyshire Constabulary and an increase in confidence to report such crimes. Reports of stalking show that this is now one of the fastest rising crimes in Derbyshire.
People are reporting historic cases, dating back to pre-pandemic years.
One of the Stalking Advocate posts will sit within the provision currently provided by domestic abuse support charity Glow and will focus on the City, while the second role will be delivered in the rest of the County by Crossroads Derbyshire. Both roles represent a total investment of around £90k per year over the next three years.
This will give countywide service provision and a coordinated and consistent approach to understanding and addressing the needs of victims of Stalking across Derbyshire.
The advocates will provide support for individuals with a holistic package including emotional help, assistance to report experiences to the police, housing advice, increased home security, safety planning and support through the legal process, gathering evidence and obtaining legal orders including Stalking Prevention Orders/restraining orders. They will also provide access to counselling services to help victims recover and will work closely with the force’s Stalking Co-ordinator to support efforts to protect the quality of investigations across the force.
Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster said: “Stalking and harassment have a devastating and deeply personal impact on their victims. In rare cases where perpetrators are convicted, few are given a custodial sentence – increasing the risk of further harm or an escalation of harassment to the victim in the future.
“It is imperative we increase help for victims by offering specialist and professional support to enable them to move on with their lives and deliver better justice through the courts. This includes recognising and reaching out to victims within a domestic abuse situation and doing more to protect victims who are not intimately involved with the perpetrator through greater use of Stalking Protection Orders.
“Stalking is clearly a growing concern, but there is still potentially a proportion of stalking and harassment cases that are not reported. By stepping up our support, I want to increase confidence among victims that we take these crimes extremely seriously and will do everything possible to support them and deliver the protection and justice they deserve.”
The new posts aim to provide better support for male and female victims in a domestic abuse situation and boost referrals from those where the stalker is not a current or former intimate partner or family member.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
In a national study of 358 homicides of women in the UK, stalking behaviours were present in 94 per cent of cases showing a clear link between control and coercion in both stalking and harassment incidents and domestic abuse.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s report ‘Bridging the Gap’ found less than one per cent of stalking victims are supported by specialist advocates due to limited capacity. Its research shows this type of specialist intervention leads to improved outcomes for victims including greater participation in the criminal justice process and a higher number of convictions.
The report goes on to show that 88% of victims who received support from an advocate reported that it improved their situation.
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