National Stalking Awareness Week marked by Wiltshire police

By Barrie Hudson - 19 April 2021


'Unmasking Stalking – A Changing Landscape' is the theme of this year's Stalking Awareness Week.

During the week, which runs until 23 April, the force is supporting the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and other partners as they focus on changes in perpetrator behaviour since the outbreak of covid-19, notably a rise in cyber elements. 
As lockdown restrictions are lifted, the force says, it is aware that these changes in stalking behaviours, as a result of the pandemic, are likely to be long term and so are working to combat those changes to ultimately protect victims. 
Det Insp Joe Saunders, tactical lead for Stalking for Wiltshire Police, said:  “Stalking during the pandemic has changed, with greater reliance on cyber-related elements.  
"It has not gone away.  The impact on victims of stalking can make them feel isolated.  
"It is important, during the National Stalking Awareness Week to educate on the offence of stalking, make sure victims know they can come forward to the police, and that the offenders of this terrible crime are dealt with.  Stalking needs to be unmasked." 
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Stalking and Harassment Offences, said: "The police service remains absolutely committed to safeguarding victims of stalking and harassment. These offences have a significant life-changing impact on victims and without appropriate early intervention the risk of harm can quickly escalate. 
"The NPCC continues to work with key partner agencies to improve the response to stalking and harassment. Over the last three years, this has included the introduction of refreshed training and guidance to all frontline officers and staff, and the establishment of a network of specialists in each police force in England and Wales who are responsible for improving standards locally. 
"In addition, the police service in conjunction with the CPS has introduced a revised protocol to guide investigative decision making, as well as working with the Home Office to roll out Stalking Protection Orders, that can be used as an additional tool to protect victims.
"Whilst significant progress has been made, we recognise there is still more to do and we are committed to working with the national stalking consortium and associated charities to better understand the victims' experience, so we can work together to keep people safe and improve outcomes.
"During the pandemic, we have seen a change in how stalkers target their victims, with an increase in cyber stalking, and we are working to understand how we can limit the opportunity for victims to be stalked in this way.
"I want to reassure anyone concerned that the police take all forms of stalking and harassment incredibly seriously.  
"We are fully committed to doing all that we can to bring offenders to justice and safeguard victims and during this week, we will be further raising awareness of the changing landscape of stalking, how to report concerns and which organisations can provide guidance, advice and support.
"I would always urge anyone who believes they may be subject of stalking to come forward at the earliest opportunity and report their concerns to police so we can work with them to protect them.”
A Wiltshire Police spokesperson added: "If you are being stalked, contact us on 101.  If you are in immediate danger call 999.  
"There is also support and advice from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust on the National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300, and through the Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service on 020 3866 4107."

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