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It is Stalking Awareness Week

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Stalking Awareness Week, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, campaignsStalking is not funny, romantic or acceptable. It is sinister, distressing and illegal.

If a person’s behaviour towards you is persistent and clearly unwanted, causing you fear, harassment or anxiety, then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.

Did you know:

Stalking affects 1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men at some point in their lives;

80 per cent of people are stalked by someone they know; and

Stalking was made a criminal offence in Scotland in 2010 and in England and Wales in November 2012.

To help raise awareness of the support available to people affected by stalking, Avon and Somerset Constabulary has been among those taking part in the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s National Stalking Awareness Week campaigns.

During last year’s campaign – ‘Is this stalking’ – the Suzy Lamplugh Trust released a video to give people a clearer understanding of stalking and dispel myths and misunderstandings which have built up around it.

‘Is this stalking?’ is a question people should feel able to ask themselves and their loved ones if they are receiving unwanted attention.

It is also a question for those persistent individuals who often try and convince themselves their behaviour is acceptable.

And Avon and Somerset Constabulary are supporting the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to highlight the issue this Week too.

There are a number of steps you can take if you think you are experiencing stalking; keeping a record of what happened; recording how the suspect looked and sounded; keeping copies of letters, text messages, emails and take screen shots of social media/other online messages (eg on Facebook); and keeping your apps and any online profiles secure is vital.

A recent study by the Trust revealed that stalking is a crime that remains vastly under-reported.

Research has shown that on average some victims of stalking experience over 100 incidents before contacting the police.

The study also showed that training and support services across police services in the country are underfunded and need to be improved, with only around a quarter of forces having specialised services available to victims.

David Tucker, crime and criminal justice lead for the College of Policing, said: “The College is supporting forces to be more effective in protecting and safeguarding people who may be at risk of harm.

“We have developed a comprehensive course delivered to recruits and new investigators that addresses a range of public protection issues, including stalking and harassment.

“In the coming months, we will be publishing new guidance on stalking and harassment. It updates the existing version to reflect changes in legislation and emerging knowledge about the experience of victims and the behaviour of perpetrators.”

Avon and Somerset Constabulary wants to reassure people that their police will take action when reports are made and encourages more people to come forward; Avon and Somerset Constabulary officers and staff are trained to access risk and support you throughout the investigation.

If you are a victim of stalking, Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s advice page has details on ways you can contact them, including an online reporting form.

The National Stalking Helpline – 0808 802 0300 (9:30-16:00 weekdays except Wednesday 13:00-16:00) – provides guidance and information to anybody who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking.

If you feel a person’s behaviour is putting you in immediate danger, call 999 straight away.

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