Victoria Police stalker screening pilot underway

JOINT STATEMENT

April 4, 2022

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party MPs Tania Maxwell and Stuart Grimley have welcomed a Victoria Police move to pilot stalker screening that the party proposed in its submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s stalking inquiry last year.

Police today revealed their trial of a new tool called Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment that profiles stalker behaviour and can be used to prevent serious violence.

SASH has been actively used in The Netherlands since 2015 to strengthen police awareness of stalking risks through a data-driven system that triggers alerts about offender behaviour.

DHJP recommended the VLRC stalking inquiry examine the system used by Dutch police to track stalker psychological patterns and alert law enforcement to escalating risks.

The Dutch framework includes:

  • Continued education and training for all police officers in stalking behaviours, ‘red flags’ and actions.
  • An algorithm-based checking system designed to ensure no stalking cases are missed or misidentified. This digital trawl of all police information management systems flags cases logged in the previous 24 hours for certain words and phrases. The cross-referenced data is then checked by an officer who assesses whether any cases are stalking-related but may not have been marked as such when logged.
  • A Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment (SASH) tool refined by Australian, British and Swedish clinicians and researchers that weighs victim and stalker risks of persistent, escalating and violent stalking.
  • An enhanced communication and co-operation case management system where a single police officer case-manages an allegation to completion, and is responsible for notifying agencies that should be involved, such as child protection services.

Tania Maxwell MP:

This is a very significant trial at a time when stalking offences outside family settings have increased more than 12 per cent in 12 months in Victoria.

Celeste Manno lost her life to stalking in 2020. Di McDonald is still living every day with the impacts of trauma from a stalker who pursued her for more than three years.

Behavioural training for police and technology come together in SASH to deliver a powerful tool that can make our communities safer.

Stuart Grimley MP:

We welcome the pilot of SASH in Victoria which we’d recommended in our submission to the VLRC’s stalking inquiry last year.

It’s crucial that we have better training and education for police in this area, as well as a modern system created to detect an offender’s risk.

We look forward to seeing the government’s response to the stalking inquiry after it has been tabled but welcome the proactiveness of Victoria Police to start making cultural and procedural change as a matter of urgency.