A support service designed to protect the safety and mental wellbeing of victims of stalking has announced it is ready to take on new clients as the UK marks a national anti-violence campaign.
The Stalking Advocacy Service, funded by Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping and the first of its kind in the county, is a pilot project which has been accepting referrals from Nottinghamshire Police, who run a monthly stalking clinic, since July.
The service, which helps both male and female victims of stalking, is being delivered by Juno Women’s Aid, Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid and Equation, which are working together to deliver a one-stop shop of support.
Until recently, victims and survivors whose stalking experiences did not form part of domestic abuse were denied access to specialist safety planning and emotional support. However, the PCC was determined the change the position by funding a bespoke support facility.
The Stalking Advocacy Service is able to support all victims and survivors of stalking, even if they have not reported their case to the police.
The launch coincides with White Ribbon Day which is the largest movement of its kind in the world calling on men to publicly announce their abhorrence of violence against women and girls and which sees supporters wearing white ribbons in a symbolic gesture of support for the campaign.
“Stalking poses a serious threat to the safety and emotional wellbeing of its victims,” said Mr Tipping.
“It is not a problem that can be swept under the carpet and nor should it be – painful lessons nationally have shown us that failing to act promptly can have tragic consequences for the victim.
“It is estimated that half of stalking victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder while others develop anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. For too long innocent victims have not only suffered fear but frustration with a system that is meant to protect them.
“It is vital we respond robustly and compassionately and give people the help they deserve, which is why I’ve funded this new service. Through our advocacy workers, we will ensure victims receive the best possible support to safeguard their futures and recover from their experiences.”
The PCC has provided funding worth £37,500 each to Juno Women’s Aid and Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid while Equation has received £9,480 to deliver support tailored to male victims as well as deliver a series of seminars for professionals to raise awareness of stalking and how to get help, which will be developed and rolled out from April 2020.
The funding has provided two part-time stalking advocates who have already helped victims with safety planning and other support.
Anna Clark, Chief Executive of Equation, said: “Equation welcomes the opportunity to be a part of the new Stalking Advisory Service. We have been supporting men experiencing domestic abuse for seven years. The extension of our service to any man experiencing stalking is a vital addition to services for survivors across the City and County.”
Stalking is a crime in England and Wales under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. It is described as a pattern of unwanted and persistent behaviour that is motivated by a fixation or obsession that causes a victim to suffer alarm, distress or a fear of violence.
It is illegal for a person to pursue a course of conduct that they know or ought to know amounts to stalking. A court of conduct refers to two or more incident of unwanted behaviour.
Nationally, about half of all stalking happens as part of domestic abuse. Victims and survivors of this kind of stalking are already supported in Nottinghamshire through commissioned domestic abuse support services.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust (which provides the National Stalking Helpline) reports that the consequences of stalking for victims can be physical, psychological, social and economic. Many victims change their behaviour to feel safer, including not going out in public, reducing social outings and moving home
The service has been funded as a pilot until December 2020. It will then be evaluated in the summer 2020 to inform future commissioning arrangements.
To access the service call:
Women’s Helpline: 0115 947 6490
Men’s Helpline: 0115 960 5556
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 810210 / 07702 541401
Posted on Monday 25th November 2019