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Stalking at work: Advice for potential victims

Northumbria Police believe stalking is under-reported as potential victims don't believe separate events are serious enough to come forward about.

On average, men and women wait until there have been 100 incidents before telling anyone.

If you think you are being stalked, the following advice has been issued.

  • Trust your instincts
  • Tell a colleague
  • Keep evidence and a log
  • Do not respond
  • Describe stalker or show photograph to colleagues
  • If possible, vary route to work
  • If working offsite, ensure colleagues know where you are going and how long you will be there
  • If in immediate danger, dial 999

The Working Without Fear Campaign is being launched today to coincide with National Stalking Awareness Day.

Anyone with concerns can contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.

National Stalking Awareness Day: Know the law, use the law

Police are reminding people who face stalking or harassment that help and support is available to them as part of a national campaign.

Thursday 18 April is National Stalking Awareness Day, and police are urging people to get in touch if they are being stalked - including "online stalking".

The increase in online social networking means "online stalking" is on the rise and advice on how to avoid being harassed while on the internet is available on the Northumbria Police website.

Last November, two new offences of stalking were created, which include the following examples:

  • Following
  • Contacting
  • Attempting to contact by any means
  • Loitering
  • Watching
  • Spying on a person

"We want people to know they don't have to put up with stalking or harassment and that there is help and support available.

"Most of these offences are linked to domestic violence, in that they often involve former partners and Northumbria Police has a number of specially trained domestic violence officers who will work with victims and offer them the support they need to make sure the behaviour stops.

"It may not be obvious straightaway that someone is being stalked or harassed, the behaviour on it is own may seem innocent but when it is continuous and unwanted it can make the victim feel uncomfortable and distressed.

"It can range from contacting someone, via text or online, to following and watching someone when they don't want to be and can have a damaging effect not just on the victim but those around them.

"People may think it is too trivial to report to police, however, we'd urge them to contact us and to make sure the issue doesn't escalate."

– Detective Chief Inspector Gary Hetherington, from the force's Protecting Vulnerable People department

To report stalking or harassment people can contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or Northumbria Police on 101.

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New stalking laws introduced

National changes have been made in legislation on stalking that has made stalking a specific offence for the first time.

The new legislation also includes a more serious offence of stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.

Stalking can include:

  • Following
  • Contacting
  • Publishing material relating to the victim
  • Monitoring
  • Loitering
  • Interfering with property
  • Watching or spying

National research shows that, on average, someone is stalked for two and a half years - and eighty percent of victims are stalked by someone they know.

Stalking is believed to affect one in five women and one in ten men at some point in their lives.

To report an offence of stalking or harassment, you can contact Northumbria Police on 101 or in an emergency by dialling 999.

Police appeal for victims of stalking to report crimes

Northumbria Police is urging victims of stalking and harassment to get in touch so that they can help them.

The call follows national changes in legislation which have made stalking a specific and punishable offence for the first time.

Police have also been given new powers to search premises and properties for evidence of stalking behaviour.

"We're well aware of the misery and distress stalking and harassment can cause victims, and we want people to know there is support and help available.

Northumbria Police fully support the introduction of this new legislation which will help us tackle specific offences of stalking.

People might think this type of behaviour is too trivial to report but we'd ask people to let us know if they feel they are a victim and we'll decide.

The police can often take action which can avoid an escalation but we can only act if we're made aware of issues."

– Detective Superintendent Steve Wade, Northumbria Police

Study finds women "reluctant" to report stalking

According to new research from a study by Durham University, women in the region do not think that police take rape, domestic violence and stalking as seriously as they should do.

The study found that only half the women would definitely report domestic violence if it happened to them.

"We know that the police have put additional resources and effort into improving both victim care and investigations.

However, this research shows women are still reluctant to make that first step and report these crimes to the police."

– Dr Nicole Westmarland, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Durham University

Only 49 per cent said they would definitely report domestic violence if it happened to them and just over half of women in the study would definitely report stalking to the police.

The study, funded by the Northern Rock Foundation, comes at a time when new legislation is being enforced to criminalise stalking as an offence in its own right for the first time.

"The police are always looking to improve the service we provide to victims of sexual assault; we have improved our service significantly over recent years by listening to the views of victims and experts in this field and will always continue to put the victim at the heart of our response."

– Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, Durham Constabulary