World's-first stalker rehab opens in London

There is no legal definition for stalking in the UK, which has made prosecuting difficult. But a new multi-agency specialist unit hopes to combat stalking by rehabilitating perpetrators

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
World's-first stalker rehab opens in London - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

The momentum to tackle stalking has gathered pace in the UK, where the annual number of reports of the crime has increased threefold to over 10,000 recorded offences while prosecutions have dwindled.

London’s Metropolitan Police is to combat stalking with a “world-leading” multi-agency unit, launching next month. The Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (STAC) aims to rehabilitate repeat offenders, but critics say police are still unable to properly identify and prosecute those responsible, and that focusing on culprits risks overlooking victims.

It would be the first agency to combine health professionals, anti-stalking advocates and police to rehabilitate perpetrators.

The behavioural change programme is yet to be mapped out, but offenders are likely to also be referred for mental health treatment, and drug and alcohol help services.

Launched after the disappearance 25-year-old Suzy Lamplugh in 1986, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust will be overseeing the rehabilitation agency, whilst also providing advocacy services.

Victoria Charleston, policy and development manager at the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, told WikiTribune that solutions for stalking in the current criminal justice system do not deal with the problem adequately.

Restraining orders can be breached, custodial sentences end, and offenders can continue to stalk from prison using letters or people they know on the outside, Charleston said. “Victims don’t feel they’re being taken seriously, and feel unsafe despite having gone to the police.”

The new agency aims to curb stalking by placing offenders at the heart of reforms. 

But some anti-stalking charities and critics say this approach risks overlooking victims.

However, tackling the root cause and stopping stalkers from reoffending might be one of the only ways to truly protect women from harm and obsessive behaviour.

Details from the story:

  • Twenty stalkers are to be rehabilitated during a two-year pilot of the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre.
  • Electronic tagging and panic rooms for victims are also a possibility for ways to protect victims.
  • Police action so far has fallen short and failed to protect victims, with 49 women being killed by ex-partners in last three years despite reporting stalking to police.
  • A legal definition for stalking is needed for police and legal professionals to truly combat crime, say critics.
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