National Stalking & Harassment Awareness Week Date published: 18th April 2016 7.19am

Police in Cheshire are backing a national awareness campaign on stalking and harassment, highlighting the importance of reporting this crime early and support available to victims.

The National Stalking Awareness campaign is taking place this week (18 – 22 April 2016) with a focus on social media. Findings from research commissioned by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust into cyberstalking shows that social media is becoming the tool of choice for many stalkers.

Detective Superintendent Nigel Wenham from Cheshire Police Public Protection Unit said: “Being stalked is life-changing for the victim and the consequences can be fatal. It is a crime that we take extremely seriously and important that this behaviour is reported to us at the earliest possible stage so that police can take immediate action.

“Victims should trust their instincts and the sooner the police are notified, the sooner action can be taken against their stalker.”
Stalking is where someone becomes fixated or obsessed with someone else and repeatedly making unwanted and intrusive contact with their victim. This behaviour can range from being followed, loitering outside the victim’s home or place of work, making unsolicited telephone calls or text messages, and explicit and veiled threats to the abuse of social media networks.

Detective Superintendent Wenham continues: “We are seeing technology being increasingly used by stalkers as a means to harass, monitor and research their victims. This can take many forms and include sharing, or threatening to share, explicit images and directly harassing the victim to setting up websites or profiles purporting to be from or about the victim. It can also include the use of spyware, tracking devices and other covert technology and can be hugely traumatic for victims.

“Cheshire Police takes this type of crime extremely seriously and are encouraged by the fact that more people each year are reporting it. But we know that it does go unreported and hope that this week’s awareness campaign will give victims the confidence to come forward and get the help and support they need.”

If this is happening to you then trust your instinct and call Cheshire Police on 101 early. Where possible, try to keep contact with your stalker to a minimum if it is safe to do so. Keep a record of what is happening to you. This is really important as it can be used as evidence that can help police. Talk to trusted neighbours, friends, family or colleagues as they may be able to help you collect further evidence on your behalf by putting protective measures in place.

Be aware of how much of your personal information is in the public domain and take positive steps to protect your data. Further support can be found at www.digital-trust.org.

In an emergency where there is a threat to life or a crime in progress always call 999.