POLICE and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn has today published a report on a Deep Dive review his Office has undertaken which scrutinises how Dyfed-Powys Police manages perpetrators of stalking and harassment. The report includes several key recommendations for the Force to consider as they look to improve their response to policing stalking and harassment.
Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn identified stalking and harassment as an important area for scrutiny activity, contributing to the policing priorities set out within his Police and Crime Plan.
Stalking and harassment both involve a pattern of unwanted and unwarranted behaviour by someone towards another person. The pattern of behaviour
(two or more incidents) may cause the victim to feel harassed, alarmed, distressed or fearful that violence might be used against them.
Data from the Office for National Statistics published on 26 January 2023 shows that stalking and harassment crimes across England and Wales rose by 14.09% for the 12 months to March 2022, compared to the same period the previous year.
Between April 2021 and March 2022, 10,199 cases of stalking and harassment were recorded across the Dyfed-Powys Police Force area, which was a 51.05% increase for the 12 months to March 2022 compared to the same period the previous year.
This increase is considered to be both due to changes to Home Office recording practices, as well as the Chief Constable setting a priority to eliminate domestic abuse, stalking and harassment in April 2022, resulting in a targeted focus of these crimes.
PCC Dafydd Llywelyn’s Police and Crime Plan priorities are that victims are supported; harm is prevented; and, that the criminal justice system becomes more effective. The Stalking and Harassment Deep Dive review sought to understand whether the perpetrator management processes adopted by Dyfed-Powys Police in cases of stalking and harassment supports and safeguards victims and prevents future offending, which responds directly to the three priorities.
The review focused on Dyfed-Powys Police’s use of targeted interventions and preventative orders to safeguard victims and reduce reoffending, and involved in-depth research, dip sampling of stalking and harassment cases, and importantly, engagement with victims.
PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “This review has reassured me that victims are being safeguarded by the police here in Dyfed-Powys.
“However, victims reported that they did not feel fully supported by the police. That’s why we have recommended that investigating officers review Victim Contact Agreements at various points throughout investigations, to ensure that police contact matches the victim’s expectations and needs.
“In the prevention of future offending, my team found pockets of good practice where offender management processes were applied robustly, but more needs to be done by the Force to consistently deter all perpetrators of stalking and harassment.
“In terms of the effective use of our criminal justice system, there were examples of increasing consideration, and use, of civil orders and prosecutions. But there is evidence of a disconnect between the victim, police and courts’ understanding of the response needed to breaches of orders and repeat offending.”
PCC Llywelyn has given Dyfed-Powys Police a series of recommendations in response to the review. The key recommendations include;
Resourcing – to prioritise funding and recruitment for vital roles, and to proactively seek specialist advice and support. Training – to review the Stalking Champions’ training programme, and to consider learning from Operation Soteria Bluestone.
Data – to expand Performance Dashboards for closer scrutiny of civil orders, and to ensure officers’ easy access to a complete record of a perpetrator’s breach history.
Training – to review the Stalking Champions’ training programme, and to consider learning from Operation Soteria Bluestone.
Perpetrator Interventions – to embed the Perpetrator Prioritisation Tool across the Force, and to consider the use of a range of interventions, including civil orders, as part of perpetrator management strategies.
Perpetrator Monitoring – to consider the implementation of processes to manage civil orders, including heightened follow-up and monitoring, and to incorporate the voice of the victim in civil order reviews.
Victims – to revisit Victim Contact Agreements at various stages of the investigation, and to ensure victims are kept informed in line with the Agreement.
In his response to the review, Chief Constable Dr. Richard Lewis said;
“Dyfed-Powys Police would like to thank the Commissioner and his office for undertaking a thematic review of stalking and harassment. The Force acknowledges the content of the report, especially the victim feedback.
“It’s pleasing to see the report acknowledging the work which is underway in force, and moving forward the recommendations will be integrated with our force plans, as we strive to improve our response.”
During this review, the Commissioner’s office sought guidance and opinion from specialists within the stalking and harassment arena, including Professor Jane Monckton-Smith; a Professor of Public Protection at the University of Gloucestershire whose work focuses on stalking and the prevention of homicide. The Professor has delivered training to Dyfed-Powys Police in relation to understanding and assessing the risk posed by stalking offenders.
On receipt of the findings of this review, Professor Monckton-Smith said; “Dyfed-Powys Police have been very proactive in tackling their response to stalking and have embraced new ways to respond to the victims and the offenders.
“It has been a great experience working with them and seeing their genuine interest in addressing what are national issues. This can only benefit victims and may be a model for responding to the issues across the U.K.”
PCC Dafydd Llywelyn concluded; “I am confident that Dyfed-Powys Police have already taken steps towards improvement, and am hopeful that by taking onboard my recommendations, the Force’s management of stalking and harassment perpetrators will continue to improve.
“I will continue to scrutinise the Force in this area, to ensure that that these improvements are forthcoming, requesting regular updates from the Chief Constable. Crucially, I will also continue to engage victims and key individuals in this area, to understand if they are seeing and feeling the difference from the Force’s efforts.
To find out more about this review, please visit my website via the below QR code: