A new campaign to encourage people who may be victims of stalking to speak up about incidents that cause them concern, even if other people would consider them to be trivial or insignificant, has been launched by North Yorkshire Police.
The ‘No matter how small’ campaign, which will run until March 31, also seeks to raise awareness of the different types of stalking and help people to recognise the signs.
In North Yorkshire, 132 stalking crimes and 1347 harassment crimes were recorded in the year ending December 2018. While harassment can include some of the same behaviours as stalking and causes a victim fear and distress, stalking is differentiated by the motivation of the stalker.
Developed in consultation with The National Stalking Helpline, which is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and Paladin National Advocacy Service, the only trauma informed national advocacy service for victims of stalking, the strapline of the ‘No matter how small’ campaign sends a clear message about the severity of stalking to encourage people to seek advice: “No matter how small it may seem. Speak to someone.”
According to recent research, ‘Exploring the Relationship between Stalking and Homicide’ by the University of Gloucestershire in association with Suzy Lamplugh Trust, 94% of women murdered by men nationally were stalked in the year leading up to their murder.
The force has since adopted a new procedure for how it responds to stalking and harassment reports and will be investing in training for officers and staff over the next quarter.
Det Spt Allan Harder, Head of Safeguarding at North Yorkshire Police, said: “There are numerous misconceptions about stalking with many people not realising the devastating impact it has on its victims.
“It is not romantic; it is about fixation and obsession. It is an extremely serious crime and it can, and does, escalate to rape and murder.
“Victims of stalking are often vulnerable and have frequently suffered the actions of perpetrators over a long period of time. Many are survivors of domestic abuse, who leave coercive and controlling relationships only to become the victims of an extension of this behaviour by way harassment and stalking.
“Our campaign seeks to send a message to victims and witnesses that we want them to come forward at the earliest stage with any concerns, even if other people would consider them to be trivial or insignificant.
“Stalking thrives on secrecy and so the most important thing is to tell someone – be it a friend, family member, support organisation such as the National Stalking Helpline, Paladin, or the police.
“By telling someone we can give you the help and support you need.”
The campaign is live on the force’s social media accounts, website and poster advertising across the county. Throughout, it will seek to reinforce:
Key statistics about stalking
Examples to help victims or witnesses to recognise the signs of stalking
Types of perpetrators
Myths and facts
Helpful tips about what you should do if you think you or someone else is being stalked or harassed.
How to report it
The force’s website also signposts to organisations where victims and witnesses can get help and support and the details of who to speak to if they need if they do not wish to speak to the police.
The North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, said: “If this campaign can highlight that stalking can start in relatively inconspicuous ways, it may open victim’s eyes to come forward sooner and prevent the case developing into something more serious.”
Follow the campaign via @NYorksPolice on Twitter and the North Yorkshire Police Facebook account using #NoMatterHowSmall.