Stalking and harassment short film ‘Following’ to premiere in schools
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A short film designed to highlight the impact of stalking and harassment will be shown to teenagers across Derbyshire as part of our revamped schools programme.
‘Following’ tells the story of Jack and Beth, a teenaged boy and girl who are loosely acquainted at school, whose friendship changes when they sit together in a lesson.
The film, produced by the force’s multimedia team and youth engagement officer, will be shown in all secondary schools and colleges in Derbyshire in a lesson curated and delivered by police officers and staff.
It was produced with the support of Derby College and features acting talent from the Performing Arts course at the Joseph Wright campus.
The aim is to raise awareness amongst young people about what stalking and harassment means, how their actions can affect others, and the potential consequences if escalating behaviour goes unchecked.
‘Following’ will also be used as a training tool within the force, to continually improve the understanding our officers and staff have of the crime, and the steps we can take to put a stop to it.
Detective Chief Inspector Kerry Pope, who leads our work on tackling violence against women and girls, said: “This short film is not about criminalising classroom relationships. A healthy relationship can be a rite of passage and a normal part of growing up.
“But there are times when one person will refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer and continues to pursue another person with increased, unwanted attention.
“That behaviour can escalate far beyond a simple one-sided romance and into something altogether more sinister – and it is that kind of issue we are highlighting with this film.
“We want to start that conversation with people at an early age, to show them how their actions can affect someone else and to teach them the consequences if they stray into the potentially criminal.”
‘Following’ tells its story in two parts. The first half focuses on Jack, played by Isaac Mumby, who begins an infatuation with Beth after an innocent brush of the hand in class.
Jack begins messaging Beth, leaving notes for her, waiting for her before and after school and following her social media activity intently, in the hope that his efforts will develop into something more.
The story reaches a crescendo and then rewinds to the start, playing again but this time from the perspective of Beth, played by Evija Stepanenko. When viewed through a different lens, Jack’s behaviour takes on a completely different tone.
He bombards Beth with messages on all platforms, often late into the night, follows her from classroom to classroom, watches her through her window when she is at home, and ignores her blatant pleas for him to leave her alone – all the while being numb to the devastating impact his actions are having on her.
The behaviour featured in ‘Following’ has been taken from real-life cases and shows common signs of stalking and harassment.
It is hoped the film will encourage young people to be more aware of how such actions can impact others, and to start a discussion point about how to challenge someone else’s behaviour.
The lesson will also include a wealth of information about support available to victims of stalking and harassment.
Angelique Foster, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, said:
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster said: “Stalking is a terrifying situation for victims, whereby they often feel the need to change their own behaviour in order to feel safer.
“I have prioritised tackling violence against women and girls in my Police and Crime Plan. My focus is on making our streets safer for women and girls. Everyone should have the freedom to go about their daily lives without fear of crime.
“This film is very important and will hopefully help young people understand the consequences of their behaviour, the impact it can have on others, and what defines a healthy relationship.
“It builds on the work already underway to strengthen the way in which stalking is tackled. My focus is on making our streets safer for women and girls. That is why my budget included an increase in the resources to boost the work to tackle stalking, including the creation of a Stalking Co-ordinator post in the force.”