Stalking journey of improvement continues for Sussex Police
“Stalking became a criminal offence in 2012 with 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men experiencing stalking at some stage in their lifetime. Worryingly, only a fraction of these cases are reported to the police and, when incidents are reported, police often look for a specific offence rather than recognising the pattern of harmful, potentially dangerous behaviour.
“The heartbreaking circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Shana are a constant reminder to me, as the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, to demand better for victims. Whilst nothing can alter the terrible outcome nor ease the grief, I was determined that something had to change.
“My own experience of stalking, over an eight year period, has led me to seek injunctions against several local men. I have been fortunate to have excellent advice and support from colleagues but the relentless harassment, fear and the laborious process to get it to stop, are very wearing. I have enormous sympathy for other stalking victims and fully understand their frustration when it seems like the system doesn’t respond in a compassionate and constructive way.
“Immediately following Shana’s death, I commissioned HMICFRS to undertake an independent inspection into how Sussex Police handled stalking and the results, which I presented at Parliament, had national ramifications for all police forces.
“Since then, Sussex Police has worked hard to improve their response to victims of stalking and are now recognised as the leading force in this area nationally. All new police officer recruits get training as well as all frontline officers; there are stalking experts within the force; substantial investment has gone into the Public Protection Unit to upskill officers’ knowledge in the relevant legislation; 20% of the total number of Stalking Protection Orders given nationally have been issued in Sussex; we have just launched a ground-breaking stalking perpetrator intervention programme; and I continue to financially support our growing, local advocacy service, Veritas Justice, who work closely with Sussex Police, help to train officers and participate in the multi-agency, stalking and harassment governance group that has been established.
“The journey of improvement continues for Sussex Police and I remain resolutely determined to do all that I can, both locally and nationally, to protect future victims from this insidious crime.”