Six months ago, local NHS Trust, Southern Health launched a new service called the Recolo project* for people with obsessive thoughts and behaviours about others and, during this week’s National Stalking Awareness Week (8-12 April), staff are being recognised for the innovative work being undertaken in partnership with police, probation and victim advocacy colleagues - as part of the Multi-Agency Stalking Intervention Programme.
The Recolo project (Latin for ‘renew or think again’) works with stalking perpetrators to make positive behavioural changes - improving their psychological wellbeing, their relationships with other people and, importantly, reducing the risks of unlawful stalking behaviour and the impact on their potential victims.
Members of the Recolo project team - which includes a psychiatrist, psychologist and occupational therapist - attended a national conference this week where their work (and that of the two other UK pilot sites) was shared with a wider audience as an example of the positive and collaborative work being done to tackle stalking.
Dr Kirsty Butcher, joint clinical lead for Hampshire’s new mental health service, explains: “In just the first six months, the Recolo service in Hampshire has already received more than 80 referrals, predominantly from the police but also from the probation service and other healthcare colleagues. We’re able to offer a range of assessments, treatments, consultations, signposting and monitoring to these individuals in order to attempt to change their patterns of behaviour, which will improve both their lives and importantly those of the people they’ve become fixated with.”
From these initial referrals, the team have been able to group perpetrator behaviours into five distinct stalker categories known as: ‘rejected’ stalking (69%) arising after the breakdown of a close relationship; the ‘incompetent suitor’ (12%) prompted by loneliness with impaired social skills, who targets strangers or acquaintances often for brief periods; ‘predatory’ stalkers (6.5%) usually men who develop a sexual interest in a female stranger; ‘resentful’ stalking (6%) which happens when someone feels they’ve been mistreated by an individual or organisation; and finally the ‘intimacy seeker’ (6.5%) which arises out loneliness and a desire for a relationship with a stranger or acquaintance, often fuelled by the delusional belief that they’re already in a relationship, even though none exists.
Dr Butcher continues: “We work with the patient and their referrer to conduct a Stalking Risk Profile, developing a formulation regarding the stalking behaviour, and then providing recommendations regarding the individual’s treatment and management. I have to say, we are really encouraged by the feedback we’ve had to this new service since we launched it last autumn and we plan to continue developing our service - linking with the judiciary in coming months to increase awareness of the project, as well as providing more training on stalking for our partners.”
The Recolo project team works collaboratively alongside Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire & IOW probation teams and Aurora New Dawn (a victim advocacy organisation) as part of the Multi-Agency Stalking Intervention Programme (MASIP). MASIP is an 18 month pilot, coordinated by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and running until February 2020, in which three areas (Hampshire, Cheshire and London) form multi-agency partnerships to test out intervention programmes with the aim of reducing offending rates.
Suky Bhaker, Acting Chief Executive for Suzy Lamplugh Trust, added: “Stalking is a crime of obsession which can have devastating and grave consequences for victims. New research, out this week, by members of the National Stalking Consortium has found that 8 in 10 victims of stalking show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but only 2 in 10 are assessed for PTSD by the health services.** This project aims to break the cycle of obsession, fixation and harm. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of this ground-breaking piece of work with colleagues from Hampshire, Cheshire and London; our hope is that we can reduce the impact that stalking has on victims.”
* The Recolo service is one of three pilot projects running across the UK, the other two are based in London and Cheshire.
** Key findings from this study, entitled ‘Health Care Responses to Stalking: Implications and Recommendations’ are available at: www.suzylamplugh.org