Home Latest news National Stalking Awareness Week 2024

National Stalking Awareness Week 2024

by Jonathan Kearney

Merseyside Police is supporting the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and partners as part of National Stalking Awareness Week, which runs from the 22-26 April.

This year, the theme is ‘Join Forces Against Stalking’, to demonstrate the importance of multi-agency working to protect victims.

Stalking is defined by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust as, ‘a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.’

Often with stalking, the stalker will have an obsession with the person they’re targeting. It can be someone known to the victim – an ex-partner or a person they were friends with, or it might be a stranger.

Stalking may include:

  • regularly following someone
  • repeatedly going to their home uninvited
  • regularly sending flowers or gifts
  • making unwanted or malicious communication
  • checking someone’s internet use, email or other electronic communication
  • hanging around somewhere they know the person often visits
  • interfering with their property
  • watching or spying on someone
  • identity theft (signing-up to services, buying things in someone’s name)

If the behaviour is: fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated, causing fear, distress or anxiety then it is more than likely to be stalking. Stalking often has a huge emotional impact on those it affects. It can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

Behaviours can be ‘offline’, such as visiting the victim’s home or place of work, following the victim or leaving gifts, or, due to the prevalence of technology, online, sometimes known as ‘cyberstalking’. This can include unwanted social media communication, calls, texts, emails, hacking and spyware. Merseyside Police have a specialist Cyber Crime Unit, working alongside the North West Regional Crime Unit, National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre to protect victims of cyber crime through education on how to keep safe within the digital landscape.

Merseyside Police also have measures in place to safeguard the victim, including adding markers to locations  or phone numbers, which prompt an alert should something happen and Stalking Protection Orders, which includes specific conditions to offer further protection.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Nuttall, from the Protecting Vulnerable People Unit, said: “Stalking and harassment are serious, distressing crimes which can have a devastating impact on the lives of victims, their friends and family, that no-one should have to put up with.

“We have been working hard to improve our response to stalking, including updated training for officers and staff to better understand stalking and harassment behaviours and the impact on victims. We acknowledge that there is still work to do and we are working closely with partners to improve our service and put more offenders before the courts.

Detective Chief Inspector Nuttall added: “Victims of stalking offences can quite rightly feel unsettled, distressed and isolated, which is why it’s important to get the message out there that help and support is always available.

“I would encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim of stalking to report the offences to the police. I want to assure those who do come forward that we will investigate reports thoroughly and with discretion and our specially trained officers will be on hand to provide safeguarding, support and reassurance.”

If you feel you have been a victim of stalking, please contact us on 101 or @MerPolCC. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.  If you are ever in immediate danger always dial 999.

If you do not want to contact the police at this time then seek support from other agencies, for example, the National Stalking Helpline, a project run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, on 0808 802 0300 or speak to friends and family about what is happening. But above all else: don’t suffer in silence.”

We know that speaking openly is not always an option. The Silent Solution is a service which means anyone can call 999 and alert us, by pressing ’55’ and then coughing or tapping the handset This will indicate that help is needed and we will respond.