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, via Microsoft Teams

Picture courtesy of Pauline Quirke Academy, Maidenhead

In a nutshell...

This, the second Alice Ruggles Trust conference, will bring together a range of international academics and practitioners 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.

Some of our keynote speakers and workshop chairs

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

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 will lead a workshop entitled “Cyberstalking Action Plan: What are young people’s experiences with cybertalking 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 last year on “What do stalking victims need? Some practical advice”, has 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.

The conference will feature a number of workshop sessions focusing on more specific topics. These will run in parallel three times over, so that each delegate can attend three of them. We will be releasing a fuller list of the planned workshops shortly but in the meantime here are more details of the two already mentioned:

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

Led by Rory Innes

Using data collected from hundreds of cyberstalking cases this workshop will cover:

  • 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 will examine the positives and negatives of existing apps, with the aim of producing recommendations for an optimal app for stalking victims. Questions for attendees to consider in advance include: 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?

Owing to the current circumstances, our second annual conference will be a virtual one. While we will miss our stunning physical venue (see below) we shall be taking full benefit of the Microsoft Teams platform. The meeting will run for a complete day with scheduled coffee and lunch breaks and will feature both keynote lectures and workshop sessions running in parallel.

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

Only registered attendees will be able to join the conference and numbers will be limited for technical reasons, so early registration is recommended. We will be charging a modest registration fee to cover our costs but these will be much lower than for a physical conference.

Register now