Cheshire has entered into a national partnership with two other police forces and a charity to deliver a groundbreaking programme to tackle stalking.
The county’s police and crime commissioner has signed a collaboration agreement with the Metropolitan Police, Hampshire Police and anti-stalking charity, Suzy Lamplugh Trust (SLT), which will enable them to work together to carry out innovative work to support victims of stalking.
The agreement follows a successful joint funding bid by the three forces and SLT to the Police Transformation Fund to deliver a two-year programme between now and 2020.
In Cheshire, the funding is being used to establish an integrated anti-stalking unit aimed at protecting victims of stalking and managing perpetrators. The first of its kind in the North West, the unit is being run by Cheshire Police in partnership with North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
An experienced team of police officers, mental health professionals, outreach workers and victim advocates will work together to assess each stalking allegation on a case-by-case basis before deciding on a suitable method of intervention.
They will be able to discuss the best course of action and provide expert advice on whether psychological interventions, social support or legal sanctions are needed. The unit will offer victims one-to-one support while working closely with the perpetrator to ultimately manage the risk of further harm to the victim and the wider community.
The unit is operating from a base in Warrington and will initially focus on those affected by stalking in the Warrington and Halton areas with the learning applied across the whole of Cheshire.
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “I am proud that Cheshire Constabulary is one of only three forces nationally to receive this funding from the Police Transformation Fund to deliver this ground-breaking stalking project.
“Stalking is a complex crime which needs to be dealt with in the correct way to protect victims and manage the risks caused by perpetrators.
“Working with our colleagues in the Metropolitan and Hampshire Police and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, this funding will allow us to carry out ground-breaking work to explore a range of interventions to tackle stalking at its root-cause and reduce repeat offending.”
All three forces will be working on their own projects to identify effective ways to reduce reoffending by stalkers through proactive and preventative strategies, while increasing the safety and wellbeing of victims.
The work will then be compared and evaluated to enable recommendations to be made for how intervention programmes to tackle stalking could be rolled out in other force areas.
Rachel Griffin, chief executive of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, added: “We’re delighted to be working with partners in Cheshire on this innovative project to support victims of stalking and develop intervention programmes for perpetrators.
“At Suzy Lamplugh Trust, we are committed to protecting victims of stalking and, by working with perpetrators, we hope to reduce reoffending. Stalking is a crime of obsession which can have devastating and grave consequences for victims. This project aims to break the cycle of obsession, fixation and harm.
“It’s exciting to be at the forefront of this ground-breaking piece of work with colleagues from Cheshire, Hampshire and London; our hope is that we can reduce the impact that stalking has on victims.”