Dan Parton(8/12/11) considers the potential impact of theworld's first stalking centre   




Today sees the launch of what is reported to be the world'sfirst stalking treatment centre in London - and it's longoverdue. 


Stalking is one of those crimes that seem to be viewed with adegree of levity. People make jokes about it; not malicious perse, just off-the-cuff comments, such as bumping into the sameperson in the office kitchen several times and saying "are you mystalker?", that sort of thing. 


But to victims, it is all too serious. Stalking is recognised asa component in more than three quarters of cases involving peoplemurdered by ex-partners, according to a 1999 study by McFarlaneet al. Overall, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will be thevictims of stalking at some point in their lifetime, according tothe British Crime Survey. 


Stalking doesn't always seem to have been treated with theseriousness it deserves in mental health services either. Whilethere is provision for the victims, who can suffer terribly, it canbe patchy.  


But treatment for stalkers themselves is scarcer; like otherkinds of offenders, can repeat their offences and without treatmentmany return to stalking either the same, or a different, victim. 


Treatment and rehabilitation can be effective, according tovarious expert reports, so the launch of the National StalkingClinic (NSC), to be run by Barnet Enfield and Haringey MentalHealth NHS Trust, which has extensive experience of working withstalkers, is a great step forward on several counts. 


Firstly, it means that recognised stalkers can get access tospecialist assessment and treatment. 


This could help cut down on future incidents of stalking, whichis good news for everyone. 


And, if crimes are averted, it cuts down on the psychologicalharm done to victims, who can suffer depression, anxiety orpost-traumatic stress disorder. This would also cut down on costsfor mental health teams - something that always has to beconsidered in these austere times. 


If this clinic is a success, then hopefully the model will bereplicated in other trusts around the country, and some of thethousands of stalking incidents that occur each year can beprevented.