Stalking offences are unlikely to stop because of the current lockdown and social distancing measures.
This is the message from the charity, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, for National Stalking Awareness Week which started on Monday 20 April. The message is one that Hertfordshire Constabulary supports.
Stalking is a serious criminal offence involving a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour from the perpetrator which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.
The current lockdown and social distancing measures are unlikely to reduce a stalker’s fixation or obsession. And many stalkers will use technology and social media to make unwanted contact with victims, which could of course continue or even increase at this time.
Social distancing may also mean that victims may feel more isolated and vulnerable.
Detective Superintendent Stuart Cheek, who is strategic lead for the force on stalking, said: ‘Stalking is something that Hertfordshire Constabulary takes very seriously and that is why we are supporting this week.
‘We want to make sure victims and witnesses can recognise stalking behaviour as a criminal act and something that should be reported to police. It is sadly the case that some perpetrators have gone on to commit serious assaults or even murder against their victims, therefore it is vital that early warning signs are understood and victims feel able to ask for help.
‘However the day-to-day impact on a victim’s mental health and sense of wellbeing should not be overlooked too. This is a problem likely to be exacerbated in the current environment.’
The Trust as well as other partners including law enforcement organisations will be posting on social media throughout the week using the hashtags #NSAW2020 and #SeeStalkingClearly.
If you are the victim of stalking or believe you may be being stalked please call 999 if you have immediate concerns for your safety or 101 if it is non-urgent. You can also report non-urgent matters online via web chat at herts.police.uk.
You can get advice and support on stalking issues from the National Stalking Hotline 0808 802 0300 or in Hertfordshire direct from an Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworker by calling Safer Places on 03301 025811.