National Stalking Awareness Week logo

Police urge greater recognition of stalking behaviour during week of awareness

This week is National Stalking Awareness Week and Bedfordshire Police is sending the message that despite COVID-19 Lockdown, help is still available and that the police will investigate and support victims.

Stalking has been linked to some of the most high harm crimes, including domestic abuse, sexual offences and murder.

This behaviour is most often about the coercion and control by one person of another. Recognising the early signs can prevent escalation, and even more serious offences occurring.

The mnemonic FOUR, which stands for Fixated, Obsessive, Unwanted, Repeated, illustrates the signs of stalking, and its associated behaviours.

Bedfordshire Police said that, on average, victims will suffer up to 100 incidents before they feel compelled to report to police.

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

“The fixated and obsessive nature of perpetrators is unlikely to be affected by the restrictions currently upon us and may make some even more determined to reach their victims by other means; for example via social media, email or messaging apps, or by exploiting knowledge of daily routines, such as shopping or exercise.

“This can have a devastating impact on victims, their families and communities, causing fear and distress, and affecting physical and mental health, leaving victims feeling unsafe, isolated and terrified, even in their own homes.

“I would urge anyone with concerns to contact the police, even if you’re not sure that a crime has been committed.”

Breaching Stalking Protection Orders could result in five years in jail

Since commencement in January this year, Stalking Protection Orders (SPO) can give an effective, early means of dealing with an offender. They can apply to any case of stalking.

An SPO also bans offenders from contacting victims while an investigation is being carried out. Breaching the order could result in up to five years in jail.

It will also force the perpetrator to seek help, and by addressing the underlying issues, could help reduce re-offending.

For information and advice about stalking, visit Bedfordshire Police’s stalking and harassment information pages.

You can also call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300, or speak with Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy on 0203 866 4107.

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

You can also visit the force’s online reporting centre.

If you are able to call, but are in fear for your safety, the Silent Solution system enables a 999 mobile caller who is too scared to speak, or make a noise, to press 55 when prompted which will inform police they are in a genuine emergency.

National Stalking Awareness Week runs until Friday 24 April.