Stalkers to Be Electronically Tagged to Alert Their Victims
Stalkers could be electronically tagged so their victims are alerted if they are nearby, under an initiative by London police.
The Metropolitan Police are considering the idea in a bid to tackle a surge of stalking cases in the capital.
The number of stalking offences recorded in London doubled from 622 in 2016 to 1,197 cases in 2017, according to the latest statistics, but it is feared that many incidents go unreported.
The proposal comes as police set up a new unit to tackle stalking and violence against women and girls.
Police Commissioner Cressida Dick unveiled the £1.4 million Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (Stac) on Thursday, May 11, which will involve specialist police officers, mental health specialists, and a victim support charity.
“I am not here to defend where we have failed in the past. Maybe we have not given it as much focus as we could. We are striving to get better,” Dick said at a press briefing.
Detective Inspector Lee Barnard, who will be leading the unit for the Metropolitan Police spoke to reporters about an initiative to electronically tag offenders.
“In terms of technology, we are already engaged with a firm in relation to electronic tagging for perpetrators and proximity alerts for victims to give them a warning when the individual may be near,” he said.
A representative from the Metropolitan Police said it is an “idea in its early stages.”
The unit will draw on experiences learnt from Fixated Threat Assessment Centre, which treats people who harrass and stalk the British Royal Family and senior politicians, and other public figures.
Doctor Frank Farnham, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the National Stalking Clinic said, “Over the last 12 years at the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre we have developed significant expertise in assessing and managing those who stalk public figures.
“We now have the opportunity to apply this knowledge in managing all stalking cases, thereby reducing the risk posed to victims,” he said.
There is no legal definition of stalking, but the police describe it 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.”
The new unit will be made up of police officers, two nurses, a nurse manager, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, supported by a victim advocate, Crown Prosecution Service lawyer and a probation officer.
One in five women and one in 10 men will be stalked in their lifetime, according to official figures. Half of stalking cases relate to domestic abuse stalkers, usually former partners who have been rejected by the victim.
Claire Waxman, the Independent Victims’ Commissioner for London said, “Stalking is an insidious crime that can have devastating, long-lasting consequences for victims and their families. We know that stalkers are fixated and obsessive and that this can stem from underlying mental health issues.”
A report published last summer highlighted that many stalking cases were not recorded correctly and were not recognised by police.
The gravity of the crime is brought to the fore with cases such as Molly McLaren, 23, who was stabbed to death by Joshua Stimpson, 26, two weeks after she broke up with him. Stimpson had been warned by police to stay away from her, twice.
In January, BBC presenter Emily Maitlis said the impact of being stalked was like having a chronic illness. She said her stalker, Edward Vines, continued to harrass her even when he was in jail.