New support for victims of stalking goes live across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
04 July 2023
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, has announced the start of a new contract that is providing independent and specialist support to stalking victims.
The Stalking Advocacy and Support Service, run by Stop Domestic Abuse, began on 1 July 2023. It will run until 31 March 2026, with the option to extend for up to a further two years.
The PCC commissioned the service, with funding of £130K per year, as part of her commitment to overhaul the stalking and harassment services across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The majority of stalking offences are committed by a former partner, perpetrators are predominantly male aged between 18 and 32 years old, and victims are typically women and girls.
Evidence also shows that stalking is increasing across the two counties. From 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022, there was a rise of 36% on the number of stalking offences reported compared to the previous time period. More recently, for 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 a total of 3,221 stalking offences were reported which is also a slight rise on the previous year.
PCC Donna Jones said: “I am committed to ensuring that we have the right support across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for victims but importantly also to prevent these dangerous behaviours by using intensive interventions with perpetrators.
“Stop Domestic Abuse already provides specialist support and protects victims and survivors of domestic abuse where stalking has been a part of the abuse, and this funding enables them to extend that advocacy and support to all victims of stalking, irrespective of whether the perpetrator is known to them or not.”
CEO of Stop Domestic Abuse, Claire Lambon, said: “Our team of Stalking Advocates are now providing specialist support to all victims of stalking, helping them to improve their personal and cyber safety, to support their mental health, and to access the additional specialist support services they need.
“We’re helping stalking victims speak out about their experiences and seek justice, and we’re working with other professionals to increase community understanding of the complex issue of stalking and the vulnerability of stalking victims.”
The Police & Crime Commissioner funds a range of services across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to support victims including specialist support for victims of Domestic Abuse and Sexual Crime, as well as Victim Care and Restorative Justice services.
An Independent Stalking Advocate had previously been funded, however more provision was needed to ensure victims of stalking across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are fully supported.
DCI David West is the Force Stalking Lead for Hampshire & Isle Of Wight Constabulary: “Stalking is a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated and unwanted, causing victims to fear violence or otherwise suffer alarm and distress. It is a dreadful and dangerous crime.
“Stalking behaviours are not limited to being followed and watched online or in public. They can be found in the persistent unwanted contact through phone calls and social media which cause a change in lifestyle as well as emotional and psychological health.
“Unfortunately, stalking remains an under-reported crime in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. That’s why policing must make sure victims of stalking feel empowered, by keeping their voice at the forefront of the criminal justice system whilst relentlessly pursuing perpetrators and bringing more offenders to justice.”
How To Get Help
Stop Domestic Abuse’s Stalking Advocates are on hand to offer free and confidential support, and the service is open to anyone across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
For advice, help and information call the Stop Domestic Abuse helpline on 0330 0533 630, email email@example.com or visit www.stopdomesticabuse.uk/stalking
The National Stalking Helpline can also be contacted on 0808 802 0300 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In an emergency, call 999.