Staffordshire Police is supporting National Stalking Awareness Week, where police forces, advocacy agencies and charities come together to raise awareness of stalking.
The heightened activity, from Monday 25 April, coincides with the re-launch of the force’s ‘Let’s Talk Stalking’ campaign, which aims to increase public knowledge and understanding of stalking.
Victims don’t always realise or recognise the offender’s behaviour towards them amounts to stalking so for this reason, it’s believed many offences go unreported as victims don’t understand what stalking is or realise how serious it can become.
The campaign focuses on educating the public on FOUR key behaviours:
- Fixated – being followed on your daily routine, spied on, or being watched by someone loitering around your work or home
- Obsessed – being monitored on or offline, cyberstalking, the ordering and cancelling of items on your behalf
- Unwanted – gifts being sent or left for you; unwanted messages, letters or phone calls; even damage or graffiti being caused to your property
- Repeated – this can be any nuisance or threatening behaviour, being approached, accosted repeatedly.
In the last 12 months, 76% of victims of stalking in Staffordshire were female and 89% of incidents were classed as domestic, which means they involved partners, ex partners or family members.
Head of Safeguarding, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Cooke, said: “The force has always taken violence, abuse and intimidation of women and girls very seriously with areas such as domestic abuse, stalking and harassment and rape and serious sexual offending force priorities.
“National Stalking Awareness Week gives us an opportunity to highlight the work we have been doing so far as we continue to refocus efforts, improve services and work with partners to ensure there is a robust approach to both prevention of violence and the protection of those who don’t feel safe.”
With funding from the Home Office’s Safety of Women at Night and Safer Streets funds, the Staffordshire Commissioner is working with partners to invest in practical measures that will not only increase the safety of women and girls, but also ensure they feel safer too.
Staffordshire’s Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams said: “Everyone has the right to live without fear, but stalking can cause significant harm in a person’s life, leaving them feeling scared, anxious or distressed.
“As Commissioner, reducing violence against women and girls – and the fear of violence – is a key priority for me, and is part of a wider partnership approach to preventing violence more broadly.
“This includes commissioning services like New Era, which provides support for those experiencing any kind of domestic abuse, including stalking. We are also working with partners to deliver practical measures like CCTV and better lighting in public spaces, as well as education programmes to challenge harmful behaviours.”
During community engagement events throughout the week, neighbourhood officers and Police Community Support Officers will be handing out advice leaflets and encouraging conversations about the Let’s Talk Stalking campaign and the Hollie Guard App – a free app which can instantly turn your phone into a personal safety device. They will be visiting key locations such as beauty salons, hairdressers, pharmacies, doctors’ surgeries and other public venues, in order to share the message with as many people as possible.
On Tuesday 26 April, the force will be hosting a Facebook live even at 6pm, to give the public the chance to ask any questions they may have and seek advice in relation to stalking. Questions can be submitted through Facebook or anonymously in advance at: https://app.sli.do/event/wymnmueXRigcMvy8TiWx6Q
The campaign video, featuring Lorraine from Black Country Women’s Aid, Nick Gazzard from the Hollie Gazzard Trust, Jason Corden Bowen from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Dr Jane Monckton Smith from the University of Gloucestershire, will be shared on social media and through online advertising.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Cooke added, “We really want people to recognise the FOUR behaviours that are warning signs that someone is stalking you. This behaviour is NOT normal and it shouldn’t be ignored or accepted.
“If you’re experiencing stalking, please make contact sooner, rather than later, to allow us to work together and agree a course of action to help protect you and halt the behaviour. This can include using Protection Orders against offenders following arrest. These protect you while we investigate the crime and gather evidence, enabling the offender to be charged and prosecuted.
“We understand the devastating impact stalking can have and our specially trained officers are on hand to support and safeguard victims and work closely with agencies such as New Era, who provide emotional support and all sorts of practical help to victims of stalking in Staffordshire.”
“I would urge anyone with concerns about stalking to contact the police. You can private message us on Facebook or Twitter, call 101 or report via our website. You should always call 999 in an emergency.”
For more information and advice please visit: https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/letstalkstalking