Stand together and say ‘NO’ is the key message of this year’s National Stalking Awareness Week which takes place from Monday 20 April to Friday 24 April, organised by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
Lancashire Constabulary is supporting the national campaign which is focussing on raising awareness amongst young people about stalking.
Stalking does not have an exact definition as those committing the act with often use multiple and differing methods to harass their victims. Generally unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group towards another person can be classed as stalking.
It can consist of any type of behaviour such as regularly sending flowers or gifts, making unwanted or malicious communication (including calls, texts, emails and online messaging), damaging property and physical or sexual assault. If the behaviour is persistent, unwanted and is causing you fear, harassment or anxiety then it is stalking and should be dealt with.
Research has revealed that stalking amongst young people is often overlooked with issues such as bullying taking priority, but actually those of college age are more likely to experience some form of stalking and juvenile stalking can often have a higher instance of violence than that of stalking amongst the adult population.
Every young person has the potential to become the victim of unwanted and persistent attention, whether online or in the physical world and schools, colleges and universities are fertile environments for both healthy and unhealthy relationships to develop.
The week will aim to raise awareness amongst young people about how to recognise when healthy relationships cross the line.
Whilst the emphasis of this year’s campaign is aimed at young people, stalking and harassment can and does affect people of all ages and gender taking place in both personal and work surroundings.
Detective Superintendent Sue Cawley, Head of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Stalking is a serious crime which can ruin lives and we recognise the serious nature of reports of stalking. There have been a number of high profile cases both locally and nationally which have had devastating consequences for both victims and their families.
“It is not unusual for stalking victims to remain behind a wall of silence for fear of reporting or seeking advice, but you do not have to deal with stalking on your own.
“As the mother of three teenagers I certainly welcome this year’s focus of increasing awareness amongst the younger members of society. It is also important to remember that stalking may affect anyone, of any age and gender. National statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men are likely to be a victim, to varying degrees of stalking, at some point in their lives.
“Here in Lancashire we are fully supporting the awareness week and are committed to tackling the problem of stalking and offer as much support as possible to the people affected.
“I would encourage anyone who believes they are or may be the subject of unwanted attention to report their concerns by contacting us on 101 or for guidance and support contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.”
To keep up to date with the awareness week follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lancspolice or @LancsPolice on Twitter. The hashtag #NSAW2015 will be used throughout the week.
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