It has been revealed that a specialist police team are currently monitoring more than 400 stalkers who form a threat to the royal family.
Established in 2007 because ‘information was coming in, but there was no system to assess it. And the attacks were potentially preventable,’ the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) is led by a psychiatrist and a psychologist. They believe the best way to reduce the risk of a violent incident is monitoring within the community and ensuring stalkers have access to mental health services or, if needed, are placed in a secure unit.
Made up of nine detectives, three nurses and a community support officer, the members of the FTAC have been specially trained to comb online sources and identify potential threats.
They receive referrals, which involve those obsessed with members of the royal family, and the number of referrals has almost doubled over the past two years, from 73 in 2014 to more than 137 in 2016.
In figures released by the FTAC after a Freedom of Information request from UK publication The Daily Mirror, it has been revealed that, altogether, 439 cases have been sent to the FTAC since 2013, 20 of which were deemed ‘high risk’.
The most ‘high risk fanatics’ have received visits from police officers and psychiatric nurses and there have been 11 arrests in the last three years.
Ken Wharfe, a former royal protection officer who retired in 1993 said: ‘From my experience it is important to treat these people very carefully because they are unpredictable. In the past we did not take the threat seriously from fixated individuals but during my time we began having officers in the crowds looking for known individuals like these. It is a real problem as there figures demonstrate and it’s important that they are monitored closely because there is always potential for an incident.’
In Britain around 40% of the most dangerous stalkers focus on members of the royal family and Buckingham palace receives 10,000 letters from people with mental illness every year. Though most are harmless, some do contain threats.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr Frank Farnham works with the FTAC team and said in 2014 that: ‘We have a significant number of people who believe they are the Queen or are in a love with Prince William.’
Arguably, one of the most notorious recent case of stalker activity in relation to the royal family came in 1974 when Princess Anne was the victim of an attempted kidnapping by an armed man. Twenty-six-year-old Ian Ball shot and wounded four people in the attempt, including Princess Anne’s chauffeur and bodyguard. Ball was ultimately unsuccessful and remains in treatment for schizophrenia in Broadmoor.
In addition to their work for the royal family. The FTAC also investigates potential threats to other VIPs.