Victims of stalking are being encouraged to seek help and realise that stalking is a crime as part of National Stalking Awareness Day 2013 (18 April).
One in five women and one in 10 men are stalked at some point in their life yet many people do not realise the seriousness of the crime and are unsure of the measures available to them if they or someone they know falls victim to a stalker.
Over the past year the National Stalking Helpline has spoken to 2,000 victims of stalking and the latest Crime Survey of England and Wales shows that 4% of women and 3% of men have experienced stalking.
National Stalking Awareness Day has been launched by the National Stalking Helpline to make victims aware that they are being stalked and encourage police officers and practitioners working with stalking victims to have a better understanding of the law and how they can use it.
Stalking is against the law across the UK and in November 2012 the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 created two new stalking offences – stalking and stalking that causes serious distress or fear of violence. The latter has a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Tony said: “Stalking is often seen as something which perhaps isn’t terribly serious and only affects celebrities, but the truth is it can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. It is a particularly nasty form of abuse and it’s really important for police to get the message out that they will take reports of stalking seriously. If you are a victim, don’t think you have to put up with it, or that you stand alone.
“I welcome the fact that police are taking it seriously and am pleased that GMP is raising awareness about this dreadful crime.”
To report an incident of stalking, contact the police on 101 or visit your local police station. In an emergency dial 999.
For support, call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit www.stalkinghelpline.org.