Do The Police Always Recognise A Dangerous Person?

30th May 2016

Dr Jane Monckton Smith of University of Gloucestershire told Network for Surviving Stalking (okay and a lecture theatre full of other people) her thoughts on how to police dangerous offenders. We took notes and photos and we’ve been blogging about what Dr Monckton Smith has to say… because she is worth listening to!

Do the police always recognise a dangerous person?

No they don’t….

As we’ve already discussed (mentioned in previous blog posts) we’re failing to recognise the threat that controlling behaviour poses – it’s a far better indicator that someone is going to kill than violence is..

Stalking is controlling behaviour

Stalking is repeated fixated behaviours. Individually the behaviours might not be very serious, they could include low level criminal damage –  i.e. snapping a windscreen wiper off your car; standing outside your house; texting you; phoning you

What is the stalker’s behaviour communicating?

It’s saying to someone – I could hurt you but I have chosen not too –  this time.

How can you tell how dangerous a stalker is?

  • If the police ask the stalker to stop – anyone who is not dangerous will stop if warned
  • If the stalker doesn’t stop after the police have intervened, they are dangerous.
  • If they won’t stop when the police tell them to, they’re highly unlikely to stop if the victim tells them to.


The failure to recognise controlling behaviour like stalking and coercive control means opportunities to intervene and protect people are being lost; people are dying when they could have been saved.


Dr Monckton Smith is now working with police forces to train officers on threat assessment. It’s a new move – previously police have been assessing the risk faced by the victim; Monckton Smith believes police officers are naturally more suited to dealing with threat assessment – it plays to their strengths.She says


“A lot of people say that risk assessment is a bit like being a social worker. It’s obviously important to look out for victims – they are the centre of what I am doing but if we really want to help stalking victims, we should neutralise the threat; recognise the threat and use the tools in the criminal justice system to deal with these perpetrators.”


Dr Jane Monckton Smith is a former police officer, an author and criminologist. She has also developed the DART Reference tool that helps identify Stalking and Domestic Abuse and is working with police forces across the UK. Find out more about her work here:

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