Victims of stalking across Suffolk are being urged to seek help, as a national campaign aimed at highlighting the issue gets under way.
National Stalking Awareness Week, starting on Monday, is to encourage those who believe they are being targeted to speak out.
If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted causing fear, harassment or anxiety, then it is stalking and you should not have to live with itDetective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger
This year’s campaign, by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, showcases work in the criminal justice system to support victims of stalking and to highlight best practice.
Statistics for Suffolk show the number of incidents of stalking recorded by Suffolk Constabulary during 2017 was 253, compared to 108 in 2016.
Despite the figures, a lack of reporting is an issue and officers in Suffolk hope the national week of action will encourage victims to seek help.
Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, who heads Suffolk Constabulary’s Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate, said: “Stalking isn’t just about strangers lurking in the shadows or obsessive fans following celebrities.
“The greatest numbers of stalking offences are by individuals who know their victim. This can include ex-partners or someone you have had some sort of prior acquaintance with e.g. someone you may have dated or have been friends with. This is still stalking and it is wrong.
“Stalking can consist of many types of behaviour. Greater use of social media and digital technology means that offenders now have many additional ways to harass their victims.
“If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted causing fear, harassment or anxiety, then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.
“We often see the huge emotional impact on victims, they can feel very alone and are worried about seeking help for fear of repercussions or are concerned that they will not be listened to.
“Be assured that we take stalking very seriously and urge you come and talk to us if you have concerns, as we can help.”
Stalking is repeated unwanted contact from one person to another, which demonstrates either a fixation or obsession and causes the victim to feel alarm, distress or fear of violence. It may involve personal contact but also via the phone, email, letter or social media.
Types of stalking behaviour includes unwanted communications and intrusions. Suffolk Constabulary advises that victims keep a record of what happened, keep details of people who may have seen these events, write down information as soon as possible when events are still fresh in your mind, tell the police if any neighbours or others saw or heard what happened, record how the suspect looked or sounded - what they were wearing and the make, number plate of any involved car, and stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
Victims can get more advice and support from Suffolk Constabulary on 101, the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 2000 247, or the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit www.stalkinghelpline.org.
For more information on the Suzy Lamplugh Trust campaign, visit www.suzylamplugh.org/nsaw