Aurora has been very privileged to run stalking services since 2013 in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. We were an organisation of only two years old when we were first approached by an amazing advocate for stalking victims in Hampshire Constabulary, DS Linda Dawson, who was instrumental in changing legislation for stalking victims via the Protection from Harassment Act. We worked closely with Linda and with the then Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes, and his team, to establish the first independent stalking advocacy service outside of London.
For the last ten years, we have operated the independent stalking service in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and have supported over 1,500 victims of stalking. We have won multiple awards for our service provision, were highlighted as a best practice model by HMIC and have been partner to instrumental change for stalking victims nationally with the support of our partners at The Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
Our service was funded year on year via grants, predominantly for one advocate each year, although for a period of time we were able to extend the service by having a bespoke cyber stalking advocate. Running a service on yearly grants meant we lost many good staff over the years as their employment security could not be guaranteed. We are thankful to every woman who worked in the service over the years, they were all part of systematic change for stalking victims, and many have gone on to continue their work with victims in other areas of work. We are pleased that the service has now been commissioned on a more secure footing, with extra funding for more advocates, under a three-year contract.
Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in securing the new contract in Hampshire and the IOW. The new provider will be announced by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight this week, and we will work hard to ensure a seamless transfer of victims to the incoming provider for July 1st, 2023. We are sad that we are not able to continue our work in Hampshire and the IOW with stalking victims, competitive tendering in the Violence Against Women sector is incredibly difficult for small charities. Nonetheless, we are extremely grateful for all the funding we have received over the last ten years to establish and build the service for victims in the two counties. We are proud of the service we have delivered and the learning we have been part of with partner agencies. Most importantly, we are incredibly thankful to the victims who have trusted us over the years, we have learnt invaluable amounts from all of them, and they continue to be an inspiration to us.
Moving forward our stalking services in Thames Valley go from strength to strength and we have some very exciting plans for expansion of provision for victims in this area. We will announce those developments soon. The work in Thames Valley is incredibly rewarding. Partner agencies are a delight to work with and we have felt incredibly welcome. There is a tangible desire to address the pernicious crime of stalking in new and innovative ways across the Thames Valley area, and we are excited to be a part of that change. We thank the PCC, Matthew Barber, and his team, in Thames Valley for the support and funding of our service delivery. We will continue to work hard to support as many victims of stalking as we can across the area.
Our work within the Armed Forces also continues to grow. We have run services for personnel and their families who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking since 2017. We are currently funded by the Army Central fund to support victims in the British Army both in the UK and abroad. This year we have been delivering a new group programme, funded by The Covenant Fund Trust, for victims in the armed forces, this is a pilot project that we are co-designing with victims to ensure a bespoke group programme is available for victims across the Armed Forces, to heal and recover from the abuse they have been subjected to. We are also excited that new and innovative services are coming online for victims in the Armed Forces, across the different force areas, and will announce updates on these developments in the near future.
Over the years, we have supported many victims through the criminal justice system, and we have witnessed many of them bravely secure criminal convictions against their stalkers. However, all too often we still witness victims being let down by a criminal justice system that does not adequately respond to the crime of stalking. Much work still needs to be done to hold stalkers to account, and we will continue to work with partner agencies to improve justice for victims.
Stalking is a crime that changes the lives of victims. Stalker’s behaviours have lifelong psychological impacts on victims, and sometimes tragically their behaviours are fatal for victims, both in terms of homicide and suicide, we will work endlessly to ensure victims voices are heard and that they are protected.
Where victims of stalking have been tragically murdered by their perpetrators, or died by suicide after being subjected to stalking, members of the Aurora Senior Management team are committed to chairing and authoring robust Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHR) across England and Wales. We will continue working with the families and loved one’s of stalking victims to ensure their experiences are not forgotten and they are honoured within reviews. Our DHR work aims to bring about systematic change and learning to help victims in the future.
For National Stalking Awareness week 2023, #NSAW2023, the campaign of the national stalking consortium, of which we are proud members, is focusing on young people being subjected to stalking, and our services are open to anyone aged 16+.
Please keep an eye on our social media this week and follow The Suzy Lamplugh Trust on their social media: share, retweet and raise awareness of stalking.
You can also contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.
A huge thank you to all who support us, and an even bigger thank you to all the victims and survivors who trust us to support them.
Dr Shonagh Dillon LLB, DCrimJ
CEO – Aurora New Dawn
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