The debilitating impact stalking and harassment can have on people is being highlighted by Sussex Police as they support National Stalking Awareness Week which started today (Monday April 24).
A statement from Sussex Police says: “Stalking is criminal behaviour that is distressing and malicious - it’s something no one should have to put up with.”
Sussex Police have joined forces with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to support the week-long campaign.
In a special video police and the Trust speak about the importance of identifying and reporting stalking at an early stage.
Detective Superintendent Jason Tingley said: “Victims should know that we completely understand this could be a big decision in coming forward.
“We are committed to listening to you, understanding what you say, and taking action to help keep you safe.
“Working with partners, we have thoroughly reviewed all aspects of how we respond to cases of stalking and harassment since the tragic death of Shana Grice in August last year.
“Since making a referral to the IPCC about how we dealt with incidents involving Shana leading up to her murder, we have provided additional training and feel we are much improved now - as a police service and as a society - at recognising stalking and its impact, and our response to it.
“It is important that everyone understands the debilitating impact stalking and harassment can have - in part because it is usually perpetrated by someone who knows their victim: their movements, habits, likes and dislikes, their friends and their family, their strengths and weaknesses and their fears.”
Harassment refers to any behaviour that causes a victim alarm, distress or puts them in fear of violence.
Stalking is when someone shows persistent and unwanted attention towards a victim. When individual incidents are put together they can reveal a pattern of obsessive behaviour.
Det Supt Tingley added: “It is my responsibility to make sure that all officers understand the impact on victims and the use of the relevant legislation to better protect them, working alongside partners to provide an appropriate response. Work continues every day so that officers can keep people safe.
“We recognise that this is a very important issue and a comprehensive policy for supporting victims is in place, updated recently following consultation with Veritas Justice and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, both of which gave us invaluable feedback on our policy.
“We are also carrying out additional work with Paladin, a national organisation which supports high risk victims of stalking with their specialist Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworkers (ISAC). They have trained a selected number of officers across Sussex who will have an extra level of expertise in this area of work. They are able to advise and support our other investigators whenever needed.”
Police say that if you are being stalked or harassed it is important that you report it.
“Reporting it early will assist us in protecting you.”
You can report stalking and harassment by:
• calling 999 if you’re in danger
• calling 101 if the incident happened some time ago.
• going to a police station
To find our more information about what stalking and harassment means or advice on how to get in touch if you or anyone else you know is being affected by this crime visit the police advice page.