Non-Domestic Stalking: An exploration of the impact of policing interventions

Senior, James (2023). Non-Domestic Stalking: An exploration of the impact of policing interventions. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis explores the use of policing interventions to tackle non-domestic stalking in one police force area in the United Kingdom, recognising that existing research has generally focused on stalking in a domestic abuse context.

Using a sequential explanatory design, 178 non-domestic stalking investigations were analysed between 2018 and 2019. Interventions ranged from not taking action, warnings, arrests, obtaining restraining orders and imprisonment. The impact of these interventions were then analysed for 18 months to understand their impact, specifically whether the stalking stopped. Characteristics and behaviours of the stalker were analysed to establish whether stalkers are unique or whether interventions have a similar impact across stalkers. This research also tested the theory of deterrence by analysing how stalkers reacted to warnings of arrest and prosecution. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted with frontline police officers, senior police leaders and a stalking charity to understand the realities of tackling stalking. They were given scenarios based upon actual stalking investigations to understand their response and rationale.

This study supports existing research, highlighting that stalkers are all different and there is not a one-size fits all approach to tackling stalking. This research found that around half of stalkers are not deterred by being warned by police officers and that warnings have the potential to be even less effective than not taking action, with some stalkers immediately continuing their behaviour. In addition, older stalkers, female stalkers and those that stalk their neighbours were more persistent. Arresting a stalker, obtaining a restraining order or imprisoning them is associated with lower rates of continued stalking behaviour, compared to cases in which no action was taken or warnings were given. Lastly, this study found that frontline police officers are challenged by the complexity of investigating stalking.

This research provides some practical recommendations for all police forces.

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