Stalking Awareness Week – Know the signs to make sure you #SeeStalkingClearly
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Today marks the start of Stalking Awareness Week – a week that aims to highlight criminal stalking behaviours, the dangers they pose and how you can keep victims safe.
In the current situation that the restrictions on movement it is more important than ever that everyone understands the online element of stalking and the very real fear and harm this can cause.
DCI Brian Bilby, the force lead for stalking, said: “Stalking is a crime with serious consequences. The mental health impact of stalking can be hugely damaging – and in extreme cases we have even seen victims murdered by their stalkers.
“That is why it is absolutely vital that everyone understands what behaviours constitute stalking, what you should do if you are a victim or are concerned for a loved one and the support available to victims.”
The definition of stalking is:
- A pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm or distress.
In the 21st century stalking will often comprise two elements with behaviour taking place physically as well as online.
DCI Bilby said: “Stalkers usually use a range of ways to stalk their victims.
“Physically they may follow, intimidate and enter locations where they know their victim will be – whether public or private.
“Online offenders may use spying devices on computers or phones, messaging via email or Whatsapp – as well as accessing social media to contact or intimidate victims.
“During the current period of restricted movement as a result of coronavirus the behaviour of a stalker may change to be more focused on the online element – but the harm and distress this type of contact can cause is very real.
“Both elements are taken seriously by officers and you should contact your local force if you think you, or a loved one, may be being stalked.
“Often victims don’t actually realise that they may be being stalked.
“Friends and family of victims are sometimes the first people to notice stalking behaviour. It is absolutely essential that if you see behaviour that concerns you that you make the person aware of what is happening and ensure that the police contacted.
“In some of the most serious cases, where victims are murdered by their stalker, friends and family have talked about concerns they had but never expressed.”
If you are concerned about yourself, or a friend or family member, there is a range of support for victims of stalking – both from the police and charities.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust offers a range of resources and support for victims and loved ones and also runs the National Stalking Helpline - 0808 802 0300 – open between 09:30 and 16:00 weekdays, except for Wednesday when it is open between 13:00 and 16:00.
If you, or a loved one, are in immediate danger then you should call 999 immediately.
For concerns that are not immediate you can contact Derbyshire police using any of the below methods: