Staffordshire Police has joined forces with partner agencies in a bid to help raise awareness of the signs of stalking.
The ‘Let’s Talk Stalking’ campaign, which begins on Monday 18 November and runs for four weeks, aims to increase public knowledge of stalking.
The campaign features a video which focuses on the FOUR warning signs that someone’s behaviour amounts to stalking:
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.
Since stalking became an offence in 2012 recorded incidents have continued to rise, in Staffordshire by 300 per cent. In the last year, there have been 696 reports, a four per cent increase compared to the period September 2018 to August 2019. However, victims can suffer a 100 different incidents before they make their initial report to police. Victims don’t always realise or recognise the offender’s behaviour amounts to stalking. 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.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Cooke, force lead on stalking and harassment, said: “We 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.
“Stalking is a pattern of fixated, obsessive, unwanted behaviour which is repeated (FOUR). It can take many forms both in the real and cyber world, tracking, physically following, threats, violence and damage. The effects on victims, families and their friends can be significant and life changing.
“Tragically, there have been cases nationally where an offender’s behaviour has escalated to the point of them committing further serious crimes against their victim, including murder.
“If you’re experiencing this type of behaviour please seek help now. You can private message us on Facebook or Twitter, call 101 or report via our website. You should always call 999 in an emergency.”
The campaign video features on social media and also uses radio and external advertising in prominent spots around the county in a bid to increase public knowledge of the warning signs of stalking. The video features Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Sims, 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.
During community engagement events, neighbourhood officers and Police Community Support Officers will be handing out advice leaflets and encouraging conversations about the Let’s Talk Stalking campaign.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, National Policing Lead for Stalking and Harassment offences, said: “The police service remains absolutely committed to safeguarding victims of stalking or harassment, and bringing offenders to justice. These offences can have a devastating impact upon victims and it is critical that patterns of perpetrator behaviour are identified at the earliest opportunity to prevent the escalation to even more serious offending.
“We continue to work closely with our partners to put the victim at the heart of everything we do, and to ensure our officers understand the important distinction between stalking and harassment offences so they can better respond to such incidents and ultimately improve outcomes for victims.”