Victoria Police use new tool to combat rise in stalking

With stalking crimes in Victoria rising sharply, police are trialling a new tool to try and better protect victims.

More than 100 frontline officers and detectives have now trained on the Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment (SASH) system which helps police calculate the violent risk a victim may be facing.

Using the SASH tool, police look at 16 risk factors, with cases assigned to different units based on severity of risk.
Victoria Police has become the first police force in Australia to trial a new tool which will try to better protect victims of stalking. (The Age)

Local Crime Investigation Units (CIU) will take on high-risk cases and frontline officers given moderate or low risk cases.

The CIU will also oversee moderate-risk cases.

Last year Victoria police responded to more than 1100 non-family violence stalking offences, an increase of 12 per cent compared with the previous year.

Used by police forces in England, Scotland, Italy and the Netherlands, SASH is designed to move police thinking from identifying crime to recognising, understanding and responding to the behaviours and risks posed to victims of stalking.

“Stalking is a complex crime,” Family Violence Command Assistant Commissioner Lauren Callaway said.

“This trial is so important because it will help police better recognise and understand stalking behaviours to improve safety for victims.”

Assistant Commissioner Callaway said the SASH tool, currently being trialed at two stations in Victoria, Prahran in Melbourne’s CBD and Morwell in the Latrobe Valley, will “greatly assist in protecting victims from unwanted behaviour.”

In a major study of national data in 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found one in five women and one in 13 men have experienced stalking during their lifetime.

Ninety-four per cent of women were more likely to be stalked by a male instead of female, according to data, while men were marginally more likely to have experienced stalking by a male than a female.

The study found 4.1 per cent of females compared to 1.8 per cent of males were more likely to have experienced stalking in the last 12 months.

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