28/09/2017 17:14 BST

Suzy Lamplugh Trust Wins Funding To Fight Stalking By 'Rehabilitating' Offenders

New programme will assess the mental health of stalkers.

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A charity dedicated to helping victims of stalking has won funding for a world-first project which aims to ‘rehabilitate’ offenders.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has won funding from the Mayor of London’s office for crime and policing to work with stalkers to improve results across the criminal justice system.

A report commissioned by the charity, which runs the National Stalking Helpline, revealed an incredibly tiny percentage of stalking cases end in a conviction, just 529 successful prosecutions in 2015/15 - around 0.04% of the total number of estimated incidents.

The study also revealed stalking behaviour is present in the background of a huge number of cases in which women are killed by men. 

Of 358 murders examined during a three-year period from 2012 until 2014, the killer was found to have engaged in some form of stalking in a shocking 94%.

The trust, which was set up 30 years ago in memory of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh who disappeared and whose body was never found, said it hopes working with perpetrators can help to make victims of stalking safer.

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Suzy Lamplugh vanished in 1986.

Chief executive Rachel Griffin said: “This funding will allow us to work in partnership with criminal justice and health professionals across the country to develop intervention programmes for perpetrators of stalking.

“Stalking is a crime of obsession which can have devastating and grave consequences for victims. This project aims to break the cycle of obsession, fixation and harm.

“Studies have shown that early intervention in stalking cases can reduce the risk to victims, and that concerning behaviours are more likely to be prevented from escalating if they are recognised quickly.

“A continued, specialist focus on preventing harm and changing behaviour is necessary to keep stalking victims safe. It’s fantastic to be at the forefront of this ground-breaking piece of work; our hope is that we can reduce the impact that stalking has on victims.”

On average, stalking incidences last from six months to two years, with around a third of all cases involving physical violence.

Research has also found 55% of stalking perpetrators go on to reoffend, and 36% have a previous conviction for harassment.

But the trust says the complex psychological issues associated with the crime often fail to be addressed within current criminal justice solutions.

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Many stalking cases end in violence.

It will work with police forces and health trusts across the country to assess the mental health issues of stalkers and help them to break dangerous patterns of behaviour. 

Sarah Newton, government minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said: “I am pleased the Suzy Lamplugh Trust is taking forward this important work, which will help build our understanding of how best to address stalking behaviours.

“Stalking and harassment are devastating crimes which cause great distress to victims. That is why we have strengthened the law and are taking steps to introduce a new civil stalking protection order to protect victims at the earliest possible stage.

“Five years ago this government created specific stalking offences to ensure those responsible face justice, and through the Policing and Crime Act 2017 the maximum sentences for both stalking and harassment were raised from five to 10 years.

“We encourage police forces to continue their efforts to protect victims and pursue offenders.”