Safety first: a new Dutch approach to policing ex-partner stalking

Cleo Brandt1

1Netherlands National Police (NNP)

In the Netherlands, the term domestic violence is used as a blanket term by the police and public prosecutor’s office. It covers a wide range of topics, such as honour-based violence, elder abuse, child abuse, intimate partner violence and ex-partner stalking. In all these areas, police have been moving away from so-called reactive policing, focusing more on safety and prevention. Between 2012 and 2015 a number of ex-partner stalking cases that resulted in the death of the victim, despite police involvement, received widespread media coverage. An internal review identified shortcomings in how police handled these cases, reflecting shortcomings highlighted in other jurisdictions. They include failure to recognise stalking, failure to focus on victim safety as well as crime prosecution, failure to effectively assess risk and prioritise cases, and failure to communicate effectively about stalking, both internally and with other agencies. This session will present the new Dutch police work process that has been developed to improve police responses to stalking, including lessons that can be applied outside of the Netherlands.


Cleo Brandt is an investigative psychologist with the Netherlands National Police (NNP) and is a long-term member of the NNP’s expert group for complex sexual assault allegations. Cleo’s other areas of expertise include behavioural investigative advice in (sexual) homicide cases, linkage analysis in sexual assault cases, threat assessment and management of stalking cases, and providing interviewing advice to police.

Cleo is one of the translators of the Stalking Risk Profile (SRP) and the Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment (SASH), and is the co-author of a practitioner handbook on stalking. She provides workshops and training about stalking to police, victim advocates, lawyers, judges, and mental health professionals.

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