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Research - Stalking and its Links to Homicide

Thursday 4th May 2017

The results of a six-month study by the Homicide Research Group at the University of Gloucestershire suggest there is a strong correlation between some key stalking behaviours and homicide, and that identifying the intention behind the stalking, and then managing the fixation, may reveal opportunities to save lives.

The lead researcher, Dr Jane Monckton Smith, a former police officer, now a senior lecturer in criminology at University of Gloucestershire, found that in almost every case the killer displayed the obsessive, fixated behaviour associated with stalking.

The research which involved more than 350 cases of criminal homicide highlighted the following:

  • Stalking behaviours were present in 94% of the cases
  • Surveillance activity, including covert watching, was recorded in 63% of the cases (estimated to be much higher in reality as the victim is unaware)
  • Escalation of concerning behaviours was identified in 79% of the cases
  • Control was recorded in 92% of the cases
  • Isolation of the victim was recorded in 78% of cases

Acknowledged high risk action markers were present across the sample.

For example: strangulation assault 24%, threats to kill 55%, suicidal threats 23% (estimate the presence of these markers could be much higher due to underreporting).

The study also concluded:

Diverse activities like court actions were not recognised as stalking.

Coercive control and stalking were more often simultaneously present where there has been an intimate partner relationship. This type of relationship formed 71% of our sample.

Threats to kill occurred in 55% of cases, and in some cases the threat was articulated to third parties as well as the victim.

85% of homicides occurred in the victim's home.

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