Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster has officially launched the new specialist service she has funded to increase support for victims of stalking.
The new Independent Stalking Advocate post forms part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s commitment to reducing the risk of violence against women and girls and ensuring victims of stalking are safeguarded at the earliest opportunity.
The service will be managed by Crossroads Derbyshire, a charity offering confidential support and advisory services to people impacted by domestic abuse. It will help protect victims of stalking living in the north of the county, initially in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales areas.
Crossroads Derbyshire already provides a stalking advocacy service for victims of domestic abuse. The new post will enable the service to extend help to all victims of stalking in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales areas – including those not affected by domestic abuse.
Commissioner Angelique Foster has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the safety of women and girls across the county, coordinating multi-agency action to robustly tackle the risk of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and ensure women have the freedom to go about their daily lives without the fear of crime.
In delivering her Police and Crime Plan pledge to provide greater help for victims of stalking and increase the apprehension of those responsible for these crimes, the Commissioner has already funded a full-time Stalking Coordinator. This post, based within the force, has already helped to secure a greater number of Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) to safeguard victims and deliver higher-quality evidence and police investigations into stalking.
The Commissioner has also funded an independent stalking advocate for the city to work with police, partners and the voluntary sector to tackle risk more effectively and ensure organisations work collaboratively to identify victims and deliver more effective support and protection.
Commissioner Angelique Foster said: “I am pleased to see the expansion of specialist support services for victims of stalking. I know our communities will welcome this vital resource, which highlights my commitment to treat stalking with the seriousness and scrutiny it deserves and improve the safety of victims.
“Stalking is a terrifying situation for victims, with many forced to modify their own behaviour and routines in order to feel safe. For every case of stalking reported, many remain invisible because victims do not have the confidence to report the situation. Regrettably, many believe stalking or harassment is inevitable, simply because they are women. This has to change.
“I have a strong plan in place to deliver increased support and protection for women affected by stalking and all other VAWG crimes. I am grateful for the support of our delivery partner, Crossroads Derbyshire, which already has significant experience and success in supporting victims of crimes against women and girls.
“Prosecutions for stalking remain low nationally and opportunities to obtain Stalking Protection Orders are often missed. We owe it to the victims to do everything possible to maximise the application of this legislation and deliver high-quality evidence and police investigations to bring more offenders to justice.
“I am proud of the innovative approach we have taken in Derbyshire. It reflects the commitment I made when I was first elected as Police and Crime Commissioner to increase the safety of women and girls across the county. I hope this latest investment will serve as a catalyst for many more improvements in services in the future.”
Vicky Bunnage, Chief Executive Officer Crossroads Derbyshire, added: “We’re so excited to be launching this much-needed new service.
“We have recognised for some time that there is a need for support for anyone experiencing stalking outside of a domestic abuse relationship. We look forward to working with our partners in Derbyshire Constabulary to advocate for victims of this horrendous crime. Thank you so much to the Police and Crime Commissioner for her support in getting this project from an idea into reality.”
Stalking is a pattern of fixated, obsessive and unwanted behaviour which is repeated and persistent, and causes a victim to feel alarm and distress and/or fear of violence.
Victims will be referred to the new service by the police or through Derbyshire Victims Services (DVS) – the centralised support service funded by the Commissioner to support victims of all crime across the county.
The stalking advocate will provide emotional help, safety planning and support through the legal process, housing advice, help to obtain legal orders including Stalking Prevention Orders/restraining orders and increased home security. They also help to arrange counselling services to support victims’ recovery.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Det Ch Insp Darren Pope (Domestic Abuse Manager), Police & Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster and Vicky Bunnage (Crossroads Chief Executive).
About Crossroads Derbyshire:
Crossroads Derbyshire is a domestic abuse charity based in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales. We support adults, young people and children through outreach work in the community and in our emergency accommodation. We work with over 900 people each year to keep safe and to recover from the impact of domestic abuse.
To find out more visit https://www.crossroadsderbyshire.org/stalking.
Telephone 01283 821012
Mobile 07702 541401