STALKING – that’s just a celebrity thing, isn’t it? When a fan gets carried away? No: often those guilty of stalking are ordinary people who become obsessed with someone they know or a stranger and are trying to manipulate and threaten them.
This week is National Stalking Awareness Week, and the Metropolitan Police are playing their part – seeing their efforts as part of their work to tackle violence against women and girls. As Commander Kevin Southworth, the Metropolitan Police’s newly appointed Head of Public Protection, explained, “We are continuing to listen to what women and girls are telling us about their experiences and feelings about safety in London, and we are working hard to ensure they can go about their lives feeling safe.
“We fully understand how stalking heightens concerns about violence against women and girls. We are particularly aware 80% of stalking victims have been female, however we will continue to do everything we can to provide support to all victims of stalking.
“Stalkers terrorise victims over and over again, leaving them struggling to feel safe. We want to help victims of stalking to report their perpetrator, we want them to feel safe and relaxed again without having their lives manipulated by one person. Everyone has a right to feel safe in London.”
The police chase stalkers all year round, but during the awareness week they will have a special focus on taking action against “predatory offenders” – as well as taking training to help improve their practice. It’s a timely move. In 2020-21, 22,676 victims contacted the National Stalking Helpline. Every single one of them reported that part of the threatening behaviour they were experiencing was done online. That’s new.
Let’s give the last word to Commander Kevin Southworth. “We know stalking can ruin lives and we would urge victims of this crime to come forward to police,” he said. “Stalking advocates are available to provide independent support and advice to victims. We will continue to work with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and other partners to ensure we are doing everything possible to support victims of this crime.
“I would like to urge those responsible to seek help to stop their behaviour. We want to ensure they get the help they need. Far from being in any position of power over their victims, they are in fact in need of help themselves – if you don’t seek help you will end up in prison for the hurt and pain you are causing.
“We want women and girls to feel confident that when they report violence, stalking, harassment and abuse, we will take it seriously. This is really important to us.”
●Stalking Awareness Week is being led by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. For advice on women’s safety, go to:
Suzy Lamplugh Trust
●Watch East London’s weekly news magazine programme,
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