Bedfordshire Police is supporting National Stalking Awareness Week Image: By taa22 AdobeStock_146296042

Potential victims of stalking are urged to report predatory behaviour during Stalking Awareness Week, as Bedfordshire Police looks back on its first Stalking Protection Order in that was issued in February.

A man from Luton was issued with this Stalking Protection Order (SPO), after he had repeatedly visited the victim’s home address over a period of five months and attempted to contact her numerous times, even after being asked to stop.

He had developed a fixation for the victim, despite not even knowing her name and in August last year he called police saying he was concerned for the woman’s welfare when she wasn’t picking up the phone.

When officers attended his behaviour caused some suspicion and when they got in touch with the woman confirmed she was safe and well and the man had been continuously contacting her against her wishes.

He was issued with the SPO for a period of ten years. The breach of his order can result in arrest and imprisonment.

Similar to a Domestic Violence Protection Order, an SPO is a means of early police intervention to address stalking behaviour before it escalates.

Detective Inspector Katherine Rivers, the force’s lead on stalking and harassment, said:

“This is Bedfordshire Police’s first Stalking Protection Order (SPO) since the legislation came into effect last year and provides interim protection for anyone who believes they are being targeted by stalking behaviour.

“Such obsessive and often disturbing behaviour can have an extremely negative impact on the victim and result with severe, long lasting trauma.

“Stalking in particular is linked to some of the highest harm crimes, including domestic abuse, sexual offences, and even murder and it is vital we take steps to halt offender actions and protect victims.”

The mnemonic FOUR, Fixated, Obsessive, Unwanted, Repeated, describes stalking behaviour, and this contact can be in person, by gifts, or via social media, email or messaging apps.

To report stalking, call police on 101. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999.

Or for advice and support, you can call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300. Or speak with Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy on 0203 866 4107.

If you’ve been affected by crime you can also contact Signpost for free and confidential support, whether the crime has been reported to police or not.