How Do Police Respond to Stalking? An Examination of the Risk Management Strategies and Tactics Used in a Specialized Anti-Stalking Law Enforcement Unit
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Faculty of Psychology 
How do police respond to and manage complaints of stalking? To answer this question, we conducted a 3-phase study. First, we reviewed the literature to identify risk management tactics used to combat stalking. Second, we asked a group of police officers to review those tactics for completeness and group them into categories reflecting more general risk management strategies. The result was 22 categories of strategies. Finally, we used qualitative methods to evaluate the files of 32 cases referred to the specialized anti-stalking unit of a metropolitan police department. We coded specific risk management tactics and strategies used by police. Results indicated that a median number of 19 specific tactics from 7 general strategies were used to manage risk. Also, the implementation of strategies and tactics reflected specific characteristics of the cases (e.g., perpetrator risk factors, victim vulnerability factors), suggesting that the risk management decisions made by police were indeed strategic in nature. Qualitative analyses indicated that some of the strategies and tactics were more effective than others. We discuss how these findings can be used to understand and use stalking risk management more generally, as well as improve research on the efficacy of risk assessment and management for stalking.