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New research to help police support stalking victims

Academics have been asked to evaluate a new stalking screening tool being used by police to try to establish how effective it is in identifying and supporting victims of crime.

The Stalking Screening Tool is currently used by police in Cheshire, Surrey and Sussex to help officers responding to incidents identifying links to stalking.

Police stalking campaign

Dr Emma Short, Associate Professor at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), will work with colleagues at Middlesex University to evaluate the questionnaire-based tool.

"Stalking is an extremely destructive and dangerous crime that has a history of too often going unrecognised," said Dr Short.

Potential victims are asked a series of questions with the tool to determine whether they have been subject to stalking or another offence.

The College of Policing has funded work to evaluate the questionnaire, developed by a National Police Chiefs’ Council group made up of police practitioners, support services and academics. It is used by first response teams.

It was introduced following a recommendation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescues Services (HMIC).

Dr Short has been a researcher in the field of stalking and cyber stalking for more than a decade, is the project’s co-investigator.

She said: “Stalking is an extremely destructive and dangerous crime that has a history of too often going unrecognised.

“Any positive development towards increasing recognition to facilitate effective early intervention is welcome. As a team we are committed to offering a thorough evaluation of this initiative.”

The project's principal investigator is Dr Elena Martellozzo of Middlesex University, a leading researcher and global voice in the field of policing, cybercrime, cybersecurity and child protection.

Dr Martellozzo, an Associate Professor of Criminology, said: “Police have designed this tool to understand what the problem is behind stalking behaviour and whether people have actually been victimised or have a perception that something is happening.

‘Stalking is a terrible crime which is often under-reported and misunderstood but the damaging effect it can have on people’s mental health is clear and has been evidenced in research.

"New approaches to tackle and understand stalking should be welcomed.”

Crime Survey of England and Wales data shows up to 700,000 women are stalked each year, while one in five women and one in 10 men will experience stalking in their adult life according to Home Office figures.

Researchers will be interviewing response officers from each force to determine the benefit of the screening tool. They are also looking to increase their understanding of the nature of stalking, victims and offenders by analysing crime data from police and through interviews with officers.

Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021

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