PCC awards stalking advocacy service in Sussex £150,000 to cope with influx in referrals
Today Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne awarded Veritas Justice, the only stalking advocacy service in Sussex, a further £150,000. This money will enable them to provide life saving support to nearly 300 more high risk victims of stalking across Sussex.
When Veritas Justice first started in 2014 they set out to support 40 victims a year but to date they have received nearly 600 referrals.
They are also helping the police, CPS and probation understand the severity of a crime like stalking when it is first described to them. Training has been provided to over 700 frontline professionals.
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne comments: “I’m so pleased to be able to increase funding for Veritas Justice so they can help even more stalking victims across Sussex.
"It's a pattern of behaviour that escalates over time. That's what makes it so dangerous. 300 more local high risk victims of crime will now receive the help and practical support they need to seek justice and begin their journey of recovery. Although, I envisage a lot more than 300 will come forward.”
Reports of stalking in Sussex are up by 540% in three years, increasing from 216 recorded stalking offences in 2016 to 1383 in 2018. Some of this increase is down to changes in how stalking is legally classified but can also be attributed to the work of Veritas Justice, in partnership with Mrs Bourne to raise the profile of this often hidden and misunderstood crime.
Claudia Ortiz, Co-Founder and Director of Veritas Justice comments: “This extra funding is more than welcome and we are so thankful to Katy for her continued support not just locally, but also by raising the profile of stalking nationally.
“Stalking is one of the most debilitating crimes that can be experienced. Its relentless and repetitive nature gives victims no respite or time to recover. By providing a sustainable service that responds to the complexities of this type of crime we are ensuring that victims’ voices are heard and that they are taken seriously.”
Dina, a victim of stalking from Brighton who is receiving ongoing help and support from Veritas Justice, bravely shared her story.
“It’s the continuous mind games and control. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. I live in fear and I just desperately want a normal life. Veritas from the very outset knew exactly how these perpetrators work and we are able to, at times, predict his next step which helps me feel safer. In dealing with the police and the courts, Veritas help you get all of your evidence together and give you real practical advice. They’re completely there for you, fighting your corner. I’d like to see advocacy services like this one expand across the country, because I don’t know where I would be without them and I worry for victims in other areas that don’t have access to this specialist support.”
Part of this grant funding has been shared with a new service called Sussex Stalking Support where Veritas Justice will refer victims for access to peer support groups and other recovery projects.