Police stress help is available to victims of stalking as awareness week held

Cumbria Police are supporting this week’s National Stalking Awareness Week – and taking the opportunity to re-emphasise to any victims of these offences that help is out there.

The week, initiated by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and running until Friday, provides an annual platform to raise awareness of stalking, how to report it and the support services available.

Officers are keen for people to know that while offences will always be investigated, there is also an alternative to the court process for those just aiming to seek help.

Detective Chief Inspector James Yallop said: “Becoming a victim of stalking can happen to anyone.

“It not only affects the victim – but it can also affect their family and friends.

“Understanding what type of stalking behaviours there are can inform people and help them come forward and report any concerns to the police as soon as problems happen.

“Services such as Victim Support can support people through traumatic events such as this – and we can help point people in the right direction.”

Stalking behaviour includes:

  • Contacting or attempting to contact the victim.
  • Publishing statements or material about the victim.
  • Monitoring the victim (including online).
  • Loitering in a public or private place.
  • Interfering with property.
  • Watching or spying.

Stalking can happen in the real world and online.

DCI Yallop added: “We take all reports of stalking or harassment seriously.

“Stalking doesn’t have to involve big incidents, although it of course can.

“If it is happening repeatedly and it is fixated, obsessive and unwanted, then it is stalking – and it is a very serious criminal offence.”

As well as arrests and prosecutions for stalking, the constabulary continues to pursue orders such as Stalking Protection Orders – securing its first of these in 2020.

A Stalking Protection Order is made through the courts and imposes restrictions or requirements on the person to whom the order is made. For example, it may require them to stay away from a particular individual or location.

The total number of orders secured in Cumbria has now reached 10, with restrictions involved in these orders totalling 42 years – with the longest running for 10 years.

As a result of this work, the Minister for Safeguarding, Sarah Dines, has written to congratulate the force on the number of applications officers have made for these orders per head of population.

Cumbria is among the most successful forces in terms of the number of orders for which it has applied.

DCI Yallop added: “Everyone has the right to live their life without fear.

“The nature of this type of crime can be particularly distressing because it involves someone directly targeting someone else.

“Stalking can have a devastating effect on a victim and their loved ones.

“We will continue to work hard to bring anyone found responsible to justice.

“The Stalking Protection Order is a relatively new tool at our disposal. It is a great tool to prevent fixated, obsessive and unwanted behaviour.

“It is pleasing to see our use of it getting national recognition and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to tackle these offences.”

Cumbria’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Stalking is a very serious offence which can be terrifying and life-limiting for the victims their families.

“Stalking, if left without intervention or support, can grow in intensity and, in extreme circumstances, become dangerous for the target.

“I would urge anyone who believes that they are being stalked to please report it to the police or contact a support service.

“You do not have to live in fear – please reach out for help.”

SERVICES

A round-up of services across Cumbria is available here: Victim Services Archive – Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (cumbria-pcc.gov.uk)

HOW DO I REPORT TO POLICE?

If you wish to report to police you can do so online at: www.cumbria.police.uk/report-it.

You can also phone on 101.

Always phone 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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