Posted on 24th April 2014
Today (April 24) marks national Stalking Awareness Day.
Derbyshire Constabulary takes allegations of stalking and harassment extremely seriously and will take action against perpetrators whenever possible.
Stalking is a criminal offence and is defined as any unwanted contact with a person. But the offence is not just limited to physical stalking. As technology has advanced, so too has the means by which people can target and stalk their victims. It can take the form of unwanted texts, letters, emails and phone calls. One in five women and one in ten men will be stalked at some point in their lives.
People who stalk their victims online often monitor their posts on social networking sites to see where they go and who they are with. They can hack into their victim’s online accounts, send hurtful or threatening messages via the internet or even put spyware software on phones or computers to monitor their victim.
Police are urging people to take the following action if they think they are being stalked;
- Tell the police, friends, family and colleagues about what is happening
- Make sure you get good, practical advice. Contact the National Stalking Helpline for support
- Gather evidence against your stalker. Keep any texts or messages as evidence
- Keep a diary and log any contact and details of what has happened
- Don’t post too much information on your social network sites. Private message or text your friends instead
Detective Inspector Steve Roberts from the force’s Public Protection department said: “People often assume that stalkers follow their victims to their place of work, or send them presents. But with the development of technology, cyber stalking is becoming more common.
“We want to make people aware of this and encourage them to come forward to speak to the police if they believe they’re being targeted. Stalking is illegal and is unacceptable in any form.
"Technology is increasing stalking. It makes it easier to monitor, harass, threaten and humiliate victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A stalker can cause a lot of damage without ever leaving their home.
“We are here to offer help and support to victims and I would urge anyone who is suffering in this way to contact us on 101 or help.”
In a recent case at South Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court Gregory Cook (49) of Horton Street, Derby was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months. He is also under a curfew between 7am and 7pm for 18 weeks and will be electronically tagged. He must also attend a building relationships course for 60 days.
Cook had sent numerous text messages and made phone calls to his ex-partner, her new partner and his family. He also sent letters to the victim.