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Tackling stalking through targeted interventions

Key insight 25 April 2022

National Stalking Awareness Week 25th– 29th April in the UK  

This week marks National Stalking Awareness Week in the UK, an annual campaign run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to raise awareness around the issues related to stalking.

This campaign is proudly supported by Interventions Alliance, which works in partnership with the Sussex, Surrey and Kent Police and Crime Commissioners and their police forces by working with stalking perpetrators to change their behaviour. Interventions Alliance also works alongside dedicated stalking victim advocacy workers and reaches into additional support provided by partner agencies.

Interventions Alliance delivers targeted, tested and proven psychological therapy through its Compulsive and Obsessive Behaviour Intervention (COBI) programme. Specially trained probation officers, qualified therapists and experienced cognitive behavioural professionals work with stalking perpetrators to examine the chain of events, triggers and behaviours that heighten their risk of offending. Over a course of three months and 12 one-to-one sessions, the aim is to develop new skills and coping mechanisms that break the cycle of offending. This intervention attempts to break perpetrators’ patterns of offending, and supporting victims and working to make communities safer is at the centre of their work.

The Office of National Statistics conducted a Crime Survey in March 2020 which looked at perceptions of the police, criminal justice system, crime and anti-social behaviour. It showed that 3.6% of UK adults were victims of stalking by a partner or family member. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust stated in their report that stalking affects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men throughout their lifetimes with approximately 1.5 million people being stalked annually.

There has also been a recent increase in cyber stalking, due to the increased reliance on digital technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cyberstalking is defined as the repeated use of electronic communications to harass and frighten someone. A key partner to Interventions Alliance, Veritas Justice, a stalking advocacy service funded by the Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, reported a 75% increase in cyber and online stalking activities.

Detective Inspector Lee Horner of the Sussex Police Public Protection Command, said: “We are very glad to be working alongside Interventions Alliance on the specialist Stalking Perpetrator Programme, which aims to tackle some very troubling and distressing behavioural issues. This is complex and challenging work with no easy or quick solutions, but we are determined to continue developing this project which we are convinced has the potential to reduce the impact of this type of conduct on victims.”

Detective Superintendent Juliet Parker, Surrey Police lead for Stalking, said: “As part of our perpetrator focused activity, we’ve teamed up with Interventions Alliance who offer Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) as part of their Compulsive and Obsessive Behaviour Intervention (COBI) programme. The therapy helps the perpetrator to acknowledge, accept, recognise and manage the difficult emotions that trigger harmful behaviour. This programme doesn’t replace Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) which are designed to protect victims from risky stalking behaviour, but by helping perpetrators manage their behaviour, it’s another tool that can help safeguard potential victims.”

Matthew Scott, Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, said: “We’re very lucky in Kent to have specialist intervention therapy available, delivered by experts, aimed at helping perpetrators change their ways. Stalking is a terrible crime and one which often has serious consequences for victims. I’m proud we’re exploring innovative ways to reduce stalking re-offending in our county.”

Suki Binning, Interventions Alliance Chief Social Worker/Executive Director of Justice, Social Care and Skills at Seetec, stated:

“Interventions Alliance is proud to support National Stalking Awareness Week. We work in partnership with police forces across Sussex, Surrey and Kent to deliver the COBI intervention, which aims to tackle the behaviours and triggers of stalking perpetrators. We believe this intervention can make a difference and help prevent more people from becoming victims of such behaviours.

“We use a variety of methods with participants to develop trust, understanding the trigger patterns of their behaviour and working on skills to help them in their everyday life. This provides an opportunity to communicate and express their thoughts, helping them to identify the root of the issue. This is key to their rehabilitation, breaking the cycle of re-offending, and better protecting victims.”