Police in Cumbria are supporting a campaign to raise awareness of stalking.
The week, running from April 19 until April 25, was initiated by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to provide a focused annual platform for the offence.
In 2020, Cumbria reported 506 reported crimes of stalking. National developments in crime recording now allow for every incident of stalking to be recorded as an individual crime, meaning an incident of stalking could involve several crimes. Of the 506 reported crimes, 74 per cent of these were domestic related.
This week, Cumbria police will raise awareness of stalking behaviours, encourage reporting and accessing support services.
Content aimed at helping unmask what stalking behaviour looks like will be shared on their website and social media.
The trust hopes to raise awareness of stalking, reporting and the support services available to victims. This year, the awareness week is focused particularly on unmasking stalking.
Stalking behaviours include but are not limited to: contacting and attempting to contact the victim; publishing statements or material about the victim; monitoring them; loitering around them in a public or private place; interfering with property; and watching or spying on them.
Constabulary lead for stalking and vulnerability, Detective Superintendent Dan St Quintin, said: “Becoming a victim of stalking can happen to anyone, at any time. It not only affects the victim but it also can affect their family, friends and colleagues.
“That’s why awareness campaigns like this are so important.
He said: “Understanding what stalking behaviours are can boost the confidence of victims to come forward and report concerns to police as soon as they arise.
Superintendent St Quintin said: “We take all reports of stalking or harassment and coercive and controlling behaviour seriously.
“All reports are thoroughly investigated, and support and safeguarding will be provided.
“Stalking doesn’t have to involve big incidents, although it of course can.
He said: “All acts of stalking are unlawful. If it is happening repeatedly and it is fixated, obsessive, and unwanted, then it is stalking, and it is a very serious criminal offence.”
“Everyone has the right to live their life without fear. The nature of this type of crime is particularly distressing because the perpetrator is directly targeting a person. Stalking can have a devastating effect on a victim and their loved ones, and we will continue to work hard to bring anyone found responsible to justice.
“Anyone can fall victim to stalking and we would encourage anyone who is concerned about stalking, harassment or coercive and controlling behaviour to report it to the police immediately.
Constabulary lead for Cumbria’s, Call it Out campaign, Chief Superintendent Sarah Jackson said: “Stalking Awareness Week is a fantastic opportunity for us to get conversations going and raise vital awareness of reporting and support services.
“Whilst we were rated as ‘Good’ by HMICFRS, for keeping people safe, we understand that personal experiences or concerns can lead to people feeling unsafe.
“Last month we launched our ‘Call it Out’ campaign, with a survey to listen to lived experiences of women and their views on personal safety in Cumbria. The survey sought to understand the concerns of women across the county and use this to address behaviour and crime that must be challenged.
“Whilst anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, stalking and harassment, offences are overwhelmingly committed by males against females.
“The survey was incredibly well received, and the responses are being collated.
“If you have any concerns around your safety or the safety of someone else, I urge you to get in touch. We are here to listen and to support you”.
Anyone who would like to report an incident of stalking, or concerns, should call Cumbria Police on 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.
To report a crime completely anonymously, contact independent charity, CrimeStoppers, on 0800 555 111.