Specialist help for Hampshire victims of stalking

Daily Echo: Police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes Police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes

THE victims of stalking in Hampshire will receive specialist help from a new advocate.

The county’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes has announced funding for the new position, which is the first of its kind outside London.

He agreed to provide £22,000 to fund the new advocate after results of the British Crime Survey estimated that 120,000 people are victims of stalking in the UK each year.

Most stalkers are known to their victims, but sometimes they can be complete strangers.

Stalking, and stalking involving a fear of violence, became criminal offences in England and Wales last year, and can be punished by prison sentences of up to six months and five years respectively.

Earlier this year the Daily Echo reported on the sentencing of mature student Michael Marks, of Middle Road, Tiptoe, who subjected IT teacher Linda Wood to a year-long stalking ordeal where he followed her around various locations in the New Forest. Magistrates handed him a two-year restraining order, as well as a community order with a 12-month supervision requirement and 100 hours unpaid work.

And in January “predatory” John Ridd from Fisher’s Road, Totton, was jailed for 12 months after subjecting a woman to a terrifying seven-month stalking ordeal which saw her break into her house, bombard her with phone calls and sexually assault her. He must also serve a ten-year restraining order banning him from much of Totton.

The new specialist advocate will work alongside Aurora New Dawn, which offers support to victims of sexual and domestic abuse. The advocate will identify and respond to stalking cases, and focus both on victim safety and prevention.

Mr Hayes said: “This initiative meets the criteria set out within my Police and Crime Plan by putting victims at the heart of what we do.

“The funding for this post is initially for one year but I am optimistic that the scheme will prove to be successful and will be extended.” 

Aurora New Dawn Chief Executive Officer Shonagh Dillon said: “With this funding we can really start to raise the profile of stalking and support victims of stalking across Hampshire.

“The long-term effects of stalking on the victim are extensive. Stalking quite literally ruins lives.

“With this partnership we can begin to address these issues and work in partnership to ensure the stalking law is applied and people gain the support they need to live their lives without fear of violence or harassment.”

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