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The Police Response to Stalking

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  1. The Police Response to Stalking Sergeant Christina Baker #873 Integrated Domestic Violence York Regional Police

  2. Objectives • Recognize stalking as domestic related criminal harassment – priority call for service • Review behaviours associated to stalking typology • Criminal Harassment – elements of the offence • Police Response

  3. Stalking An emotional fixation on another person followed by an unwanted obsessional pursuit.

  4. Stalker-Victim Types • Dr Michael Zona – Zona Profile of Stalkers • Typologies: • Simple obsessional • Love obsessional, • Erotomanic • Relationship between the people • Real or Imagined

  5. Simple Obsessional • Account for 75-80% of stalkers in Canada • Also the most dangerous if left unchecked • Victim and perpetrator have some prior knowledge of one another

  6. Simple Obsessional • Workplace violence- co-workers • May escalate to violence • Attempts to develop relationship with co-worker

  7. Love Obsessional • Absence of existing relationship between perpetrator and victim • Perpetrator often suffers from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder • Many socially maladjusted and seldom if even involved in meaningful intimate relationship

  8. Erotomanic • Delusional belief that victim is in love with them • Very rare in general population but not unusual amongst stalkers • Majority of suspects are female • Difficult to resolve due to delusions • Can be aggressive in pursuit but not likely violent

  9. StalkingPredatory Behaviour • Phone calls, letters, emails, texts • Following, spying • Leaving unwanted gifts • Leaving a “message”

  10. Stalking as a High Risk Factor • Obsessive behaviour displayed by perpetrator was the precipitating crime prior to being killed • The recognition of multiple risk factors within a relationship allows for enhanced risk assessment, safety planning and possible prevention of future deaths related to domestic violence

  11. Ontario Domestic Homicides • There were a total of 184 domestic violence death cases that resulted in 253 deaths involving 159 women, 23 children, and 71 men in Ontario between 2002 and 2008.

  12. Stalking in Dating Relationships • The most frequently committed offences include criminal harassment • Average age of victims are those between 30 to 39 years of age • As the case for spousal violence, females accounted for the majority of the police reported dating violence in 2008

  13. Police reported Violence in Dating Relationships Violence in dating relationships accounted for: • More than one quarter of all violent incidents; • Almost one third of all homicides perpetrated by intimate partners • Approximately 10% of male victims and 1% of female victims were in same sex relationships. • The prevalence of injury and weapons did not differ from opposite sex dating

  14. Police Reported Spousal Violence • In 2007, intimate domestic violence was about 12% of all police-reported violent crime. • Accounting for nearly two-thirds of offences, common assault was the most frequent type of spousal violence followed by major assault, uttering threats and criminal harassment. • Female victims (61%) of family violence were nearly twice as likely as males (32%) to have been victimized by a spouse

  15. History of the Offence • S. 264 enacted in August, 1993, and then strengthened and amended in 1997 • Introduced as a specific response to concerns about the escalation of stalking to serious violence against former partners • Also designed to protect the victim’s right to live free of fear and intimidation by former partners or stalkers

  16. SECTION 264 • (1)No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes the other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.

  17. Elements of the Offence

  18. Conduct – Look to the Specifics

  19. Meaning of ‘Harassed’ • “tormented, troubled, worried continually or chronically, plagued, bedeviled and badgered” • Any one of those emotions will suffice to support “harassed” R. v. KordrostamiOCA Mar.1/2000

  20. Fear for Safety This includes not only fear of physical safety, but fear of psychological, and emotional trauma R. v. GowingOCA Jan.12/98

  21. Reasonableness of the Complainant’s fear • Permissible and necessary to include the history of the accused and complainant (R. v. KosikarOCA Sep.27/99) • Based on an objective assessment of all the circumstances including the history between the parties; the nature of the contact; and the personal circumstances of the complainant R. v. StagnittaOSC Aug.9/2000

  22. Legislative Requirements • S. 29 of the Adequacy Standards Reg. • Must have a policy on investigations into criminal harassment (LE-028) • Must develop and maintain procedures for investigating criminal harassment complaints • Procedures should require: • Quick investigation; advice to victim re collecting evidence; obtaining history; consider risk implications

  23. LE-028 Criminal Harassment Communications • Establish if suspect is present • Relay on pertinent information to attending unit • Relationship of the complainant to the suspect • Children • Weapons • Vehicles • Determine how many units are required

  24. Nature of Risk FactorsRisk factors influence decisions

  25. Motives for Violence

  26. Implications The past violent behaviour is the best predictor of future violence Threat management begins at the frontline

  27. Domestic Violence Supplementary Report (DVSR) • Recommended from the May Illes inquest • Identified risk factors for the victim/family • Used in bail hearings and sentencing • Questions cover aspects of the relationship between the accused and victim as well as other contributing factors

  28. History of Violence • Probability of future violence rises sharply • Outside/inside the home engage in more frequent and severe partner abuse • Escalation identified only from a pattern of two or more events • Disinhibitor – attitude of violence in general

  29. Change in Relationship • Victims are most likely to be murdered when attempting to report abuse or leave an abusive relationship • Elevated risk of lethal violence while living together prior to separation • Up to 79% of homicides occurred after separation

  30. Jealous, Obsessive or Controlling Behaviours • Forced sexual acts = control • Control over social, occupation or finances • Jealousy or obsessive behaviour is consistent with abuser personality traits • Increase in violence when sexual jealous behaviours are present • Obsession about the victim

  31. Stalking Behaviours • Fear for safety • Domestic stalking preceded a majority of intimate partner homicides • How many episodes is relative to the ability to injure • Potential escalation for violence

  32. Suicidal or Homicidal Ideation • Suicidal ideology – homicidal tendency • Reflects presence of mental illness • Decreased inhibition increases motivation • Common following domestic homicide • Persistent or intrusive thoughts • Shared destiny

  33. External Stress • Unemployment, financial concerns • Displace work related frustration and anger • May be an indicator of psychological problems • Important predictor of violence

  34. Access to Firearms or Weapons • Dangerous component • Use or threats is an indicator of future violence • Firearm registry contact • FIPS

  35. Substance Use Problems • Combination of anger, impulsiveness and alcohol abuse are strong predictors of violence • Indication of a personality disorder • Strong correlation between substance abuse and severity of injury to the victim

  36. Mental Illness • Victim may articulate bizarre behaviour • Disorder may have a direct impact on risk undermining effective risk management strategies • Demonstrated symptoms or diagnosis

  37. Personality Traits • Characterized by anger, impulsivity, antisocial, narcissistic disorders are associated with increased risk for partner abuse • Associated to repeated domestic assaults and stalking behaviours

  38. Injury/Death to Pets • Particularly if owned by victim or children is a direct means of intimidation • Instils fear and control • Correlation between cruelty to animals and violence against humans

  39. Jealousy of Partner • Routinely accuse partner of having other sexual relationships • Slightest ‘evidence’ fires their imagination • Van parked across the street • Flu – indicated for one abuser that his wife had performed fellatio on another man • Recently PAR workers related a case where the offender equated footsteps in the snow with his spouse having sex with other men

  40. Jealousy of Partner • This intensely irrational jealousy may arise from their own insecurities and projection Crocker Menendez Homicide • They may be having sexual liaisons outside the marriage/relationship themselves. May/Illes Homicide

  41. Its Starts with You • Look to the dynamics and complexities of the relationship • Think about the behaviour • Always dispatch officers to the victim’s present location

  42. Thank youA journey of a thousand miles always begins with one step