National week of action to encourage #ReportingStalking
Victims of stalking across Suffolk are being urged to seek help as a national campaign aimed at highlighting the issue gets under way.
The purpose of National Stalking Awareness Week, which starts on Monday 16 April 2018 is to encourage those who believe they are being targeted to speak out. #ReportingStalking is being used as a way to highlight the issues.
This year's campaign, by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, focused on showcasing work in the criminal justice system to support victims of stalking and to highlight best practice.
Statistics for Suffolk show that the number of incidents of stalking recorded by Suffolk Constabulary during 2017 was 253, compared to 108 in 2016. Despite the figures, a lack of reporting is an issue and officers in Suffolk hope the national week of action will encourage victims to seek help.
Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, who heads Suffolk Constabulary’s Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate, said:
"Stalking isn’t just about strangers lurking in the shadows or obsessive fans following celebrities. The greatest numbers of stalking offences are by individuals who know their victim. This can include ex-partners or someone you have had some sort of prior acquaintance with e.g. someone you may have dated or have been friends with. This is still stalking and it is wrong. Stalking can consist of many types of behaviour. Greater use of social media and digital technology means that offenders now have many additional ways to harass their victims. If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted causing fear, harassment or anxiety, then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.
"We often see the huge emotional impact on victims; they can feel very alone and are worried about seeking help for fear of repercussions or are concerned that they will not be listened to. Be assured that we take #reportingstalking very seriously and urge you come and talk to us if you have concerns, as we can help.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "Stalking can have a devastating impact on victims’ lives, with the threat of being stalked leading them to live in fear and stop their usual daily routines. Nobody should have to put up with such unpleasant and intrusive behaviour.
"I fully support this week to raise awareness, it is important that we show victims that the constabulary takes reports of stalking very seriously and that help is at hand.”
Stalking is repeated unwanted contact from one person to another, which demonstrates either a fixation or obsession and causes the victim to feel alarm, distress or fear of violence. It may involve personal contact but also via the phone, email, letter or social media.
Types of stalking behaviour:
Taken in isolation, events might seem unremarkable. But in particular circumstances, and with repetition, they take on a more sinister meaning.
Unwanted communications may include telephone calls, letters, emails, faxes, text messages, messages on social networking sites, graffiti or sending or leaving unsolicited gifts.
Unwanted intrusions include following, waiting for, spying on, approaching and going to a person's home. A stalker may also order or cancel goods or services, make complaints (to legitimate bodies), damage property or follow and try to talk to you online (cyberstalking).
Advice for victims:
• Keep a record of what happened, where and when you were followed or telephoned, or when you received post or email messages
• Details of people who may have seen these events
• Write down information as soon as possible when events are still fresh in your mind
• Tell the police if any neighbours or others saw or heard what happened
• Record how the suspect looked or sounded - what they were wearing and the make, number plate of any involved car
• Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
Victims can get more advice and support from:
• Suffolk Constabulary on 101 (if life is in danger or a crime is in progress, call 999).
• National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 2000 247.
• National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit www.stalkinghelpline.org.