Stalking amongst young people

A one-day virtual conference organised by the Alice Ruggles Trust
in collaboration with the Department of Criminology, University of Leicester

Thursday 8 October 2020, 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 pm

via Microsoft Teams

Picture courtesy of Pauline Quirke Academy, Maidenhead


In a nutshell...

This, the second Alice Ruggles Trust conference, brought together a range of practitioners and academics across criminal justice, victim support, youth services, and voluntary services to explore how best to support stalking victims under 25 years of age.


Stalking is a horrific crime that affects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men across the course of their lifetime. Anyone can be a victim, and anyone could be a perpetrator of stalking.

A survey of 12,000 young people aged 13-24, conducted by VICE UK, found that 35% had personally experienced stalking, while 56% knew someone who had been a victim. Research from the National Stalking Consortium shows that 78% of victims of stalking exhibit symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder whilst Dr Jane Monckton Smith’s work shows that stalking behaviours were present in 94% of female homicides.

Worryingly, 1 in 4 of the young people surveyed by VICE UK didn’t know that stalking was a crime and an even greater number “didn’t think that attempting to contact someone [repeatedly] by any means possible counts as stalking”.

Alice was distressed by her ex-partner’s behaviour but did not appreciate the potential danger she was in. She did not see herself as a victim nor recognise that she had been in a controlling relationship. And, despite seeking help, she did not get the protection she needed.

Young people therefore face three interrelated challenges.

  • Stalking is prevalent and causes psychological damage and can have horrific consequences.
  • Many young people lack the knowledge to recognise stalking or the tools to deal with it.
  • Many young people are unaware of the risk stalking poses.

All times are BST (GMT + 1)

8:45–9:00 a.m.

Registration
 

9:00–9:10 a.m.

Welcome by Sue Hills and Clive Ruggles, Alice Ruggles Trust

9:10–9:20 a.m.

Opening address by Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex

9:20–10:20 a.m.

Keynote 1: Stalking victimisation and perpetration as reported by adolescents — Troy McEwan

10:20–10:40 a.m.

Coffee and virtual networking
 

10:40–11:25 a.m.

Workshops (first session)

  • Multi-agency working and its benefits within stalking, with a particular focus on young people, led by Tracey Birchall and Victoria Lowry
  • Towards an optimal app for stalking victims, led by Lorraine Sheridan
  • Raising awareness of stalking within schools, led by Emma Kay and Richie Allen

11:30–12:15 p.m.

Workshops (second session)

  • Young stalking victims, and the role of family and friends, led by Becky Rogerson
  • Involving young people Q&A, led by Paladin youth ambassadors
  • Cyberstalking Action Plan: What are young people’s experiences with cyberstalking and how can we help?, led by Rory Innes

12:15–1:15 p.m.

Lunch and virtual networking
 

1:15–2:15 p.m.

Keynote 2: Risks and difficulties facing young people who are stalked — Louise from Paladin

2:15–2:35 p.m.

Coffee and virtual networking
 

2:35–3:20 p.m.

Workshops (third session)

  • Cyberstalking Action Plan: What are young people’s experiences with cyberstalking and how can we help?, led by Rory Innes
  • Raising awareness of stalking within schools, led by Emma Kay and Richie Allen
  • Young stalking victims, and the role of family and friends, led by Becky Rogerson
  • Multi-agency working and its benefits within stalking, with a particular focus on young people, led by Tracey Birchall and Victoria Lowry

3:25–4:00 p.m.

Closing session led by Clive Ruggles and Sue Hills: Summation and conference resolutions

The conference featured six workshops focusing on more specific topics. These were distributed over three sessions, with most running twice, so that each delegate could attend three of their choice.

Cyberstalking Action Plan: What are young people’s experiences with cyberstalking and how can we help?

Led by Rory Innes

Using data collected from hundreds of cyberstalking cases this workshop covered:

  • How are stalkers using the internet and technology to carry our stalking behaviour?
  • What is the victim’s experience of the stalking and how do they react before seeking expert help?
  • What is the impact on the victim of cyberstalking (including particular challenges for younger people) and how does this compare to offline stalking?
  • The Cyberstalking Action Plan: What is The Cyber Helpline’s approach to supporting cyberstalking cases?
  • First response tips — Dos and Don’ts of helping cyberstalking victims

Towards an optimal app for stalking victims

Led by Lorraine Sheridan

Empirical evidence demonstrates that victims of stalking require a system that can “join the dots”, and education concerning dangers, risks, and general knowledge about stalking and how to recognise it. Victims also need advice on how to collect and keep evidence and how to work with the police to build a prosecutable case. To address these needs, various apps have been created. This workshop examined the positives and negatives of existing apps, with the aim of producing recommendations for an optimal app for stalking victims. Questions that attendees considered in advance included: What sort of educational content should an ideal app contain? What types of evidence should be collated within an app? How could an app be financed? How can apps aid police investigations?

Raising awareness of stalking within schools

Led by Emma Kay and Richie Allen

In partnership with the Alice Ruggles Trust, Durham Constabulary are educating and raising awareness amongst young people of the dangers of coercive control and stalking through a team of dedicated PCSOs. The team contact schools in the area offering to deliver training sessions. The contents of the lessons have been created by the Alice Ruggles Trust in collaboration with the PSHE Association. The package qualifies as part of the relationships aspect of the new statutory relationship and sex education (RSE) strand of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education and is recognised by Ofsted. This workshop explored the implementation of the project through to evaluation, including the dedicated team, logistics, planning, content and feedback. The project has been presented to the National Police Chiefs’ Council Working Group for stalking and the aim is to encourage schools to engage with police to tackle this type of crime and educate young people at the earliest opportunity.

Young stalking victims, and the role of family and friends

Led by Becky Rogerson MBE

Young people often lack a template of what sort of relationship they want or what is “normal”. As a result, it is particularly the case among young people that few stalking victims reach services until a serious incident has already occurred or they have got to the point where they are really frightened (i.e. the risk is already high). Friends and family are often best placed to spot the signs and identify the risk: if they are worried about the relationship they are probably right to be worried. But what should they do? Drawing upon her extensive experience working with victims of domestic violence, Becky addressed some of these issues from a practitioner’s perspective, and discussed ideas for setting up support for friends and family.

Multi-agency working and its benefits within stalking, with a particular focus on young people

Led by Tracey Birchall

Tracey’s workshop covered

  • their multi-agency journey;
  • case studies of young victims and the dynamics of individual risk;
  • positive outcomes as a direct result of multi-agency working; and
  • the potential for your own multi-agency development and the possible challenges including tips and advice.

A Question-and-Answer Session with Paladin Youth Ambassadors

Led by Paladin Youth Ambassadors

Paladin youth ambassadors champion the voice of young people and ensure their views are at the front and centre of work to recognise and respond to youth stalking.  In this Q&A Paladin youth ambassadors discussed the best way to engage and involve young people in this work.

Troy McEwan
Troy is Associate Professor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology at the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, as well as a registered clinical and forensic psychologist. She works as a Senior Psychologist for Forensicare, the public forensic mental health service for the State of Victoria, where she provides specialist assessment and advice in cases of stalking, firesetting, sexual offending, and family violence.

Troy was our main keynote speaker. In her talk she discussed what little is known about stalking of and by adolescents and gave a first look at some recent research into stalking victimisation and perpetration reported by adolescents in Melbourne.

Louise
Louise, who works for Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service, is the country’s only dedicated young people’s ISAC (Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworker). As such, she has a unique role in supporting victims of stalking aged 16–25. Louise has been working with young people for the last 22 years through statutory and third-sector organisations and has specialised for 12 years in working with and developing services for young people who have experienced domestic abuse within their families or through their own relationships.

Louise was our second keynote speaker. She addressed the particular risks facing young people, the complexity and fast-paced nature of stalking behaviours including online stalking, and the difficulties young people face when seeking help. Using her insights into adolescent stalking built up over the last 12 years Louise explored some of the ways we can support young people to come forward and receive help.

Rory Innes
Rory is Founder and CEO of The Cyber Helpline. He has spent his whole career in cyber security and has worked for leading global cyber security companies in a range of senior management positions. Rory was responsible for building one of the first cyber security practices dedicated to helping individuals & families, rather than businesses. During this time he, and his team of experts, worked for a range of rich and famous individuals globally to respond to cyber security incidents and help put good security in place. However, Rory saw the need to bring expert advice to everyone and the The Cyber Helpline was born. Rory is now focused on the growth for The Cyber Helpline and supporting high-risk cyberstalking cases.

Rory led a workshop entitled “Cyberstalking Action Plan: What are young people’s experiences with cyberstalking and how can we help?”

Lorraine Sheridan
Lorraine, who is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Curtin University, Perth, Australia, is a forensic psychologist and internationally renowned expert on stalking. Together with Karl Roberts, she authored the original Stalking Screening Tool used by police forces across the UK. Lorraine graduated from the University of Leicester, where she lectured between 2000 and 2007.

Lorraine, who delivered our main keynote speech in 2019 on “What do stalking victims need? Some practical advice”, agreed to return (this time on-line) to lead a workshop examining the positives and negatives of existing apps created to address the needs of stalking victims, with the aim of producing recommendations for an optimal app for stalking victims.

Richie Allen
Richie is a Superintendent in Durham Constabulary and is responsible for Neighbourhood Policing, Harm Reduction and Public Order. He is the force’s strategic lead for stalking and harassment. His background is in uniform policing and he intentionally uses this to drive Durham’s focus of identifying stalking at the first port of call, be that an initial call to police or a report to a police officer.

Emma Kay
Emma is an Inspector within Durham Constabulary. As their operational lead on Stalking and Harassment, she has created the training packages and roll-out of stalking training within the force. Alongside the Alice Ruggles Trust, she has set up a project to roll out education in schools around unhealthy relationships and stalking.

Emma and Richie’s workshop explored the implementation of this project through to evaluation, including the dedicated team, logistics, planning, content and feedback.

Becky Rogerson
Becky is the Director of Wearside Women in Need (WWiN), a specialist domestic abuse service providing a range of accommodation and community-based services in Sunderland. Her experience includes twenty years in the field of domestic violence as a delivery agent, ten years as a serving magistrate in the Adult Criminal Court, Probation Service employment in prison and community settings, and the design and delivery of voluntary sector victim and perpetrator programmes.

Becky’s workshop drew on her experience of dealing with young stalking victims from a practitioner’s perspective, focusing particularly upon the role of family and friends and how best to support them.

Tracey Birchall
Tracey is a Specialist Victim Advocate in Cheshire Police’s Threat Management Unit. In this role she has worked directly with victims of both intimate and non-intimate stalking, looking in depth at risk alongside an integrated team consisting of Police Officers, Police staff and NHS employees. She has an extensive knowledge of the benefits and challenges of developing and working within an integrated multi-agency setting.

Tracey’s workshop was about multi-agency working and its benefits within stalking, with a particular focus on young people.

The following speakers/workshop chairs who are free to do so have generously agreed to share their presentations/slides:

  • Troy McEwan — Stalking among young people: A known unknown | PDF
  • Richie Allen and Emma Kay — Raising awareness of stalking within schools | PPT | PDF
  • Rory Innes — Cyberstalking action plan | PDF
  • Becky Rogerson — Young people and stalking: The role of family and friends | PPT | PDF
  • Lorraine Sheridan — Towards an optimal app for stalking victims | PPT | PDF

Owing to the covid-19 outbreak, our second annual conference was a virtual one. While we missed our stunning physical venue (see below) we took full benefit of the Microsoft Teams platform. The meeting ran for a complete day with scheduled coffee and lunch breaks and featured both keynote lectures and workshop sessions running in parallel.

Stamford Court at the University of Leicester, where we held the conference in 2019 and hope to return in the future