The aim of the charity is to raise awareness of stalking (including coercive control) amongst young people and their support networks, helping them to recognise it and seek help from a criminal justice system that has a thorough understanding of the issues involved.
With the support of a panel of youth ambassadors aged 14–25, it is our core ambition to reach young people through both formal education and online engagement to equip a generation with the confidence to recognise stalking and seek help. Alongside this core work, we aim to build a society that recognises and responds appropriately to stalking through resources for family members, education and youth professionals, and criminal justice professionals.
Raising awareness amongst young people
During 2018 the Trust began working to raise awareness among 14–18-year-olds about coercive behaviour and stalking through talks at secondary schools and among Duke of Edinburgh award-scheme groups.
In March 2019 we launched the Alice Ruggles Trust Relationship Safety Resource, quality-assured teaching materials and lesson plans on stalking and coercive behaviour aimed primarily at Key Stage 4 (14- to 16-year-old) students that are freely available to secondary teachers throughout the UK as part of the new statutory RSE strand of PSHE education. Since the launch, the lessons have been downloaded over 6,000 times. In addition to this, seven police force areas—Durham, Sussex, South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oldham (as a pilot for Greater Manchester), and the Metropolitan Police Service—have taken up our PSHE resources for delivery to state schools in their areas.
Data from questionnaire responses by approximately 1000 pupils in Co. Durham before and after delivery of the Alice Ruggles Trust Relationship Safety Resource by Durham Constabulary, through their partner agency Durham Agency Against Crime (DAAC). Data obtained between March 2019 and March 2020.
We have recently updated our resource, revising the existing two lessons and adding a third that focuses on perpetrator behaviours. We are also having discussions with PSHE Association about lessons for Key Stage 3 pupils, something we have been repeatedly asked for by our education partners.
Stalking Awareness for Education Environments (SAfEE)
The Alice Ruggles Trust, St Mary’s University and Transcend Awards have worked together to develop an Ofqual-registered suite of qualifications aiming to upskill professionals working with young people so that they recognise stalking and respond appropriately.
We have developed two qualifications:
- SAfEE Ambassador. This one-day course is uniquely designed for those working with young people in a variety of education environments.
- SAfEE Campaigner. A two-day course to gain an understanding of stalking together with campaigning techniques.
The first tranche of courses will begin in April at St Mary’s. A number of other universities have expressed interest in delivering the qualifications once the package has been tested.
Working with Girlguiding Kent West, we have developed a relationships badge to teach Guides about healthy and unhealthy relationships, managing unwanted behaviour, supporting friends and safeguarding themselves.
A short video interview with Alice’s parents Sue and Clive and brother Nick was recorded in 2018 by Broadly UK, a digital platform focusing on women’s issues, and distributed on social media as part of their “UnFollowMe” campaign together with Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service. This aims to raise awareness of the dangers of domestic abuse and stalking among young people and has had over a million viewings.
The Trust is currently focused on raising awareness on-line and is working with Paladin Stalking Ambassadors to create short, animated videos to be used on Instagram and other social media channels.
Through a concerted effort, we have seen our social media platforms double in size over the last 12 months enabling us to reach more people with messages about stalking and coercive control.
Whilst not a support service, the Trust recognises the paramount need for good, local, stalking-specific support for victims. Using data from Protection Against Stalking, the Trust has launched a public list of stalking support services across the country to help victims gain access to information and advice.
Professional training and best practice
Representatives of the Trust have delivered invited presentations at numerous conferences and events for criminal justice professionals and mixed audiences of professional practitioners who might find themselves dealing with stalking cases.
These have included a meeting of the national network of stalking SPOCs at an event organised by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) in 2019 and a Crown Prosecution Service “protocol masterclass” ahead of the introduction of the new Protocol on the appropriate handling of stalking or harassment offences, as part of a package of measures to improve the way that the criminal justice system deals with stalking and harassment.
At its own day-conference in October 2019, the Trust brought together academic criminologists and forensic psychologists with police from 14 different forces, CPS prosecutors, magistrates, probation officers, and representatives of local councils, stalking charities, community support and the NHS. The aim was to stimulate further integration between these groups in order to improve strategies to tackle stalking and thus make victims safer. A year later our second day-conference brought 196 participants together on-line to explore how best to support stalking victims under 25 years of age.
The Trust, in cooperation with other agencies and charities, has also delivered training for social and healthcare professionals and workshops for domestic abuse caseworkers in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Merseyside, Nottinghamshire, West Berkshire and elsewhere. We are currently working with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust to produce a comprehensive package of training materials relating to stalking and harassment.
The Alice Ruggles Trust has played an integral role in the major campaigns affecting stalking victims over the last four years. This includes the successful campaign to introduce Stalking Protection Orders via the 2019 Stalking Protection Bill and contributing to the Home Office guidelines that accompany the SPOs.
The Trust continues to lend its support to a campaign led by Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service to introduce a register that would enable police to pro-actively identify, track, monitor and manage stalkers. Such a register would also allow front-line police assessing the seriousness of a call from a victim to be immediately alerted to previous incidents involving the perpetrator that would indicate a dangerous pattern of behaviour.
The Trust continues to work to ensure that the provisions of the Domestic Abuse Bill, currently working through Parliament, will give adequate protection to victims of coercive control and stalking.
By telling Alice’s story, the Trust works to ensure the victim’s voice is at the heart of all campaigning.
The Trust has commissioned a number of projects from Dr Lorraine Sheridan’s students at Curtin University in Perth, Australia to inform our work in raising awareness among young people. The overall aim is to create and evaluate effective ways of educating young populations about stalking and related problem behaviours, including coercive control.
We are also taking an active part in an academic collaboration group working to identify and expedite research that will improve knowledge relating to young people and stalking in the UK and have practical benefits in the future.
National Stalking Consortium
The Alice Ruggles Trust is a member of the National Stalking Consortium, a collaboration of organisations working in stalking whose overall aim is to improve support to victims of stalking throughout the UK, and attends regular consortium meetings.