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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
NHS help for stalkers
Stalking is far more common than many people realise
A Teesside NHS Trust is launching the first stalking consultation service in the country.

Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust are offering help to people with stalking behaviour.

The service is the brainchild of a consultant forensic psychiatrist at a medium secure unit.

Staff will also train police and social services on how to manage stalkers and to support victims.

I have dealt with people whose victims have had to change their jobs, move house and seen their marriages or close relationships destroyed

Doctor Rajesh Nadkarni
Dr Rajesh Nadkarni, the project's leader, began research into stalking after being unable to find relevant literature to help with a patient's psychiatric disorder.

"People think of stalking as a modern issue, but like child abuse or road rage, it has been going on for decades.

"It's only in recent years that it has been talked about.

"Celebrities such as Jodie Foster and Madonna are the high profile victims of stalking but research suggests that the problem is far more common than many people would think.

"Films such as Fatal Attraction show extreme cases of stalking but the British Crime Survey 2000 estimates that 900,000 in this country have been victims.

"That may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Managing stalkers

"Stalkers are generally male, in their mid to late 30s, better educated than the average criminal, and either unemployed or under-employed at the time the stalking begins.

"Victims are generally female and seen by their stalkers as being in positions of authority."

Dr Nadkarni and his team already provide advice to Northumbria Probation Service.

They have also trained staff within the trust, attracting the approval of the Royal College of Psychiatrists for their education programme.

Training is now being opened up to social services, probation, health and other organisations.

Practical advice

The service also aims to assess potential stalkers and provide practical advice to agencies working with victims.

Although few stalkers subject their victims to serious physical violence, Dr Nadkarni believes we should not underestimate the serious effect stalking can have on its victims.

"I have dealt with people whose victims have had to change their jobs, move house and seen their marriages or close relationships destroyed.

"Stalking provides good material for literature and films but the effects in real life can be very damaging."

Click here to go to BBC Tyne Online
See also:

07 Sep 01 | UK
Jailed stalker learns fate
18 Aug 01 | Scotland
Plea to tighten stalking laws
28 Jun 01 | Scotland
Stalking studied by university
01 Aug 00 | UK
Stalkers' register proposed
27 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Police warn Street 'stalker'
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