Stalking campaign launched in West Yorkshire to raise awareness and encourage victims to come forward
A new campaign has been launched highlighting the offence of stalking and encouraging victims to come forward to the police.
West Yorkshire Police and Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, have jointly launched the new campaign to help address some misconceptions about stalking and to make people aware what they can do if they think they may be a victim.
In 2020/21 there were 4,751 incidents of stalking reported to West Yorkshire Police, with nearly 12 per cent of offences classed as cyber-crimes.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Damien Miller said: “Last year we had thousands of incidents of stalking reported to us, but we are concerned many others are suffering in silence, potentially not realising that the behaviour that is causing them alarm or distress is in fact stalking.
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“I think many people when they hear the word ‘stalking’ will think of someone lurking in the shadows following their victim. Stalking can actually take many forms and can be online as well as in person. It is a pattern of behaviours that is fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated.
“People may also think that a stalker is generally someone the victim doesn’t know well but in fact in over 90 per cent of cases reported to West Yorkshire Police last year the alleged perpetrator was a partner, ex-partner or family member of the victim.
“It may come as less of a surprise to people that nearly 80 per cent of reported victims are female and similar percentages of reported perpetrators are male. No woman, or anyone else, should have to live in fear while going about their daily business and we are committed to tackling any behaviour that has such an effect on victims and the wider community.
“We have dedicated safeguarding teams who can provide specialist support to victims. There are interventions we can put in place - including arresting alleged perpetrators and issuing Stalking Protection Orders – but also practical help we can offer victims including offering referrals or signposting to support services. We have also invested in dedicated training for all our control room staff to help them better identify stalking offences and ensure appropriate action is taken to safeguard victims.”
Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said: “We know women in West Yorkshire are disproportionately affected by stalking offences.
“Tackling stalking will help me work towards my pledge to make the safety of women and girls a priority.
“The fact that 80 per cent of stalking victims are female is pretty stark, particularly as we know that these types of offences often spiral into more violent incidents.
“Prevention is always better than cure, so simply recognising the refuges that women might need to stay safe is not the only answer. We must work to stop stalking in the first place.
“Alongside my Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe, I will be working closely with partners to help change attitudes and behaviour towards women and girls.
“It starts by confronting the issue, challenging perceptions and raising awareness. Stalking is a crime, which will not be tolerated or accepted within our communities and we will use every tool at our disposal to keep victims safe from harm.”
Examples of stalking in person can include:
Someone regularly driving or walking past your house, loitering outside your house or place of work;
Following you either when walking or in the car;
Often turning up in places that you wouldn’t expect them to be;
Interfering with or damaging property
Repeated phone calls; or sending unwanted gifts.
Examples of online / cyber stalking can include:
Someone monitoring your online or digital communications;
Someone hacking social media or email accounts; or
Someone using tracking devices.
Anyone looking for more information and advice can visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/stalking.
In addition to local support services, there are also specialist national charities who can offer support and advice, such as Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Paladin.
Anyone with concerns can contact West Yorkshire Police by calling 101, but if a crime is in progress or there is an immediate danger to life you should call 999.