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27 November 2013, 05:56 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50
A specialist worker is being brought in to support stalking victims in Hampshire.
Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes (pictured) has agreed to fund a specialist Advocate to offer targeted support to those experiencing stalking across the county.
Sitting within local service Aurora New Dawn, the 'Stalking Advocate' is the first specialist post of its kind outside London. The Advocate will work closely with Hampshire's well-established stalking clinic (a partnership of specialist local agencies including the police, probation service and health), to identify and respond to stalking cases with a focus on both victim safety and effective intervention in relation to the perpetrator.
The British Crime Survey estimates that up to 120,000 individuals experience stalking in the UK each year, although victims do not tend to report to the police until the 100th incident. The majority of stalkers are known to their victims (as ex-partners or acquaintances), but some people are stalked by complete strangers. Stalking tends to be long-term in nature, and has been shown to escalate without early identification and intervention.
The law in relation to stalking changed a year ago (25 November 2012), making stalking a criminal offence in England and Wales. 12 months on, the creation of this specialist post is the latest development in the county's commitment to respond effectively to the very specific needs of stalking victims.
Commissioner Simon Hayes said:
"This initiative meets the criteria set out within my Police and Crime Plan by putting victims at the heart of what we do. The funding for this post is initially for one year but I am optimistic that the scheme will prove to be successful and will be extended."
Aurora New Dawn Chief Executive Officer Shonagh Dillon added:
"With this funding we can really start to raise the profile of stalking and support victims of stalking across Hampshire. The long term effects of stalking on the victim are extensive, stalking quite literally ruins lives.
"With this partnership we can begin to address these issues and work in partnership to ensure the stalking law is applied and people gain the support they need to live their lives without fear of violence or harassment."
In addition to Aurora New Dawn, other partners in the project include Solent Health, Hampshire Probation Trust, Hampshire Constabulary plus trained and skilled practitioners and professionals who can support victims.