Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) is praising the work of Cheshire’s anti-stalking unit which has managed 260 referrals since it was launched just 10 months ago.
During this year’s National Stalking Awareness Week (8-12 April), PCC David Keane is highlighting the work of the Integrated Anti-Stalking Unit (IASU) which is only one of three in the country and 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. It offers 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.
Its work brings together an experienced team of police officers, mental health professionals, outreach workers and victim advocates to assess each stalking allegation on a case-by-case basis before deciding on a suitable method of intervention.
They discuss the best course of action and provide expert advice on whether psychological interventions, social support or legal sanctions are needed.
Of the referrals, 83 were taken on by the unit for further risk management – which has included direct contact with the victim and/or offender. Partners have worked together on the other 177 cases to ensure they are effectively investigated and managed.
David said: He said: “Stalking is abhorrent crime which has a deeply traumatic, long lasting impact on its victims and can often lead to other serious crimes.
“It is fantastic to see the progress that Cheshire’s Integrated Anti-Stalking Unit has made in its first few months of operation.
“This ground-breaking work is not only helping victims of stalking, it is also managing the risk caused by perpetrators, which will hopefully reduce the number of stalking cases we see in the future.
“I’d like to see the work of the IASU rolled out nationally and I hope it inspires other police forces to implement this innovative way of tackling stalking.”
The unit was set-up thanks to a successful funding bid from the PCC’s office to the Police Transformation Fund to work with other forces and anti-stalking charity, Suzy Lamplugh Trust (SLT), to carry out innovative work to support victims of stalking.
The two-year programme sees Cheshire Constabulary, Hampshire Police and the Metropolitan Police work on their own individual projects to identify effective ways to reduce reoffending by stalkers through proactive and preventative strategies, whilst 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.