Cambridgeshire has become one of the first counties in the country to set up a stalking intervention team, as police try and crack down on the crime.
In January of this year, MPs debated Gracie’s Law which called for police forces to be funded so they can provide advocates to support victims of stalking, and help officers investigate cases more thoroughly. The proposed law, which is spearheaded by the parents of Grace Spinks is named after their daughter, who was thought to have been killed by a former colleague who stalked her in 2021.
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A specialist stalking Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, has been in post in Cambridgeshire for four years. Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a national charity which specialises in supporting victims of stalking, provided training to the specialist IDVA.
Following a successful bid to the Home Office’s Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Fund the county became the fourth area to set up a dedicated multi- agency stalking intervention team.
The trailblazing project brings together the Suzy Lamplugh Trust as project manager, a police officer, the specialist IDVA and a consultant psychologist. The team work together to support and safeguard victims to manage the risk posed by the perpetrator. Working in partnership with colleagues in the Probation Service and local authority the team provide advice and guidance and some cases work directly with the perpetrator to address their behaviour
Tackling stalking is a key priority of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Darryl Preston, to intervene early in cases, prevent offending and provide the victim with quality support.
What is stalking?
In its simplest terms, stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted behaviour that causes the victim to feel distressed or frightened. It occurs where the perpetrator has a fixated obsession with the victim. It can consist of any type of behaviour, such as regularly sending flowers, making unwanted or malicious communication, following someone, damaging property and physical or sexual assault. Stalking can also take place online.
Perpetrators have also been known to persistently lodge complaints about the victim to the authorities in the hope to get them in trouble.
The impact of stalking on a victim can be enormous. 78% of stalking victims report symptoms consistent with PTSD. The tragic cases of Alice Ruggles who was murdered by her stalker in 2016 and Justene Reece who committed suicide as a result of the ongoing stalking she was subjected to in 2017 show that there is a very real physical risk to victims too.
What help is there available?
If you believe you, or someone else, are being stalked you should report it to the police by calling 101 or on the Cambridgeshire Constabulary website. You can also contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.
Darryl Preston also funds a Victim and Witness Hub which provides free support to victims and witnesses of any crime. Anyone wishing to access support can call the freephone number on 0800 781 6818.