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UK’s first programme to rehabilitate convicted stalkers launches

The UK’s first programme aimed at rehabilitating convicted stalkers to reduce the likelihood of reoffending or an escalation in offending launches today in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

The programme is based on a model and research from probation workers in the United States, which saw those who completed the course stop their offending. A version for the south east has been designed by Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company, (KSS CRC), the region’s agency responsible for delivering initiatives that reduce reoffending.

Specially trained probation officers will work with convicted stalkers to examine the chain of events, triggers and behaviours that heighten their risk of offending. Over a course of three months and 10 one-to-one sessions, they will look to develop new skills and coping mechanisms that break the cycle of offending. The programme uses the only model approved by the British Psychological Association for use in tackling obsessive and compulsive behaviour and progress will be overseen by KSS CRC’s assistant chief officer for interventions, who is also a clinical psychologist.

People could be referred to the programme by judges as part of their sentence or under conditions placed on them on their release from prison. It’s the first time that authorities anywhere in the country have a programme available that goes beyond monitoring offenders and that actively targets lowering the risks posed by stalkers.

The number of stalking cases recorded by police nationally has trebled since 2014 with forces in Kent, Surrey and Sussex recording 340, 205 and 295 incidents respectively in 2017. In 2015, the average prison sentence length for someone convicted of stalking was 14.1 months.

Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company assistant chief officer for interventions, Carl Hall, said:

“This new approach is designed specifically to target a reduction in obsessive and compulsive behaviour, that can be so devastating for victims and in some cases lead to tragic consequences.

“While monitoring of offenders is important, our goal is to reduce their risk of reoffending to prevent further victims of crime. The research from the United States on the effectiveness of this model is encouraging but we shall monitor offenders’ progress very closely and any relapse in behaviour could lead to new sanctions or prosecutions in court.”

KSS CRC chief executive officer, Suki Binning, said:

“This is the first intervention in use anywhere in the UK that is designed to reduce the risk posed by convicted stalkers and we will share our results with colleagues and partners across the country.

“Crime patterns change continually, and it is vital that as a probation service, we are able to adapt our response to keep pace. We will continue to look for the best available evidence, research and practice from the UK and around the world that could help to cut crime and reoffending in communities across the south east.”