Nottinghamshire Police urge stalking victims to contact the police at earliest opportunity
Victims of stalking are being urged to contact the police for help and advice at the earliest opportunity.
Stalking offences are defined by a pattern of fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated behaviours aimed at a specific individual or individuals — in person or through remote means like social media.
The plea comes at the start of Stalking Awareness Week, seven days of events and activities to raise awareness of the issue.
Victims may be followed or spied upon and may also receive large amounts of unwanted correspondence or gifts. Not all victims, however, feel comfortable about approaching the police for help — something the force is working to change.
Kate Reece, a specialist safeguarding and stalking officer with Nottinghamshire Police, assists in supporting victims of stalking throughout their interactions with the police. She is responsible for proactively reviewing crimes such as domestic assaults where stalking may be a factor.
She said: “Stalking offences can have a very significant and long lasting impact on people’s lives. Every time they get an alert on their phone or a knock on their door they are nervous that things are going to start all over again and sometimes feel they have no other option than to upend their lives and move to a completely different area.
“Our job is to do whatever we can to support those victims and bring an end to the actions that are causing them so much alarm and distress.”
Sadly, many victims are reluctant to come forward — often through a mistaken belief their concerns are not serious enough to warrant police time. Others may fear going the police may make things worse.
Kate added: “We understand that approaching the police for help and advice can be a very difficult step for people to take but it really is vital that they speak with us at the earliest opportunity as this gives us the greatest number of options to help.
"We have a lot of experience in this area and deal with all contacts sensitively and with discretion and are well used to supporting people in this situation.”
The ultimate goal of the force’s work is to safeguard victims, to prevent offences from happening and to take decisive action against perpetrators. This starts by gaining a thorough understanding of the type of stalking somebody is being subjected to and the motivation of the perpetrator.
While all stalking offences are different, the people who commit them generally fit a specific profile. Some may be resentful and pursuing a grudge or grievance against the victim, while others may feel rejected after the break-up of a relationship and may still be trying to exert a level control over their victim.
Others, however, may be seeking intimacy in ways that are inappropriate — sometimes as a result of mental health challenges or learning difficulties.
In the last year, the force arrested 123 stalking suspects and brought charges against 40% of them.
If you are a victim of stalking or believe that you might be, please contact Nottinghamshire Police:
If you feel in immediate danger at any time, always call 999. If you are frightened, but not in immediate danger, call 101 or report it online.
For the National Stalking Helpline, call 0808 802 0300.