Bedfordshire Polices stands against stalking and harassment
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Potential victims of stalking are being urged to report predatory behaviour during stalking and harassment awareness week.
Today (Monday) marks the start of a national week of activity by charities, campaign groups and police forces.
Bedfordshire Police received 120 reports of stalking and harassment last month, having recently taken enforcement action against a number of suspects.
In March the force secured a stalking protection order (SPO) to a man from Luton after he attended the victim’s home address and threatened her.
He was issued with the SPO for a period of 10 years. The breach of his order can result in arrest and imprisonment.
Similar to a domestic violence protection order, an SPO is a means of early police intervention to address stalking behaviour before it escalates.
Last week a man from Luton was jailed for two years, suspended for two years, after being convicted of one count of stalking and four counts of breaching a non-molestation order.
SPOs are just one of the civil orders that will be monitored by the force’s Operation Cadbury, which is proactively targeting suspected domestic abuse perpetrators.
Bedfordshire Police has a dedicated domestic abuse team, Emerald, which is working to safeguard victims and bring perpetrators to justice.
Detective Inspector Vicky MacLeod, the force’s lead on stalking and harassment, said: “We have a clear focus in policing to pursue offenders and bring them to justice, which includes stalking and harassment.
“Stalking can be incredibly traumatic for victims and linked to some of the highest harm crimes, including domestic abuse, sexual offences and even murder. It is vital we raise awareness of the early signs to spot and reporting tools available to help protect victims.
“We know people often wait to report stalking until the issue gets worse, but we would encourage anyone to report any incidents as soon as they happen.
“It’s important that everyone recognises the signs. Look out for changes in behaviour of your children, friends or neighbours, which can include being withdrawn, becoming more introverted or anxious and even having suicidal thoughts.”
Stalking is described as a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive. It can include harassment that amounts to stalking, or stalking that causes fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.
The mnemonic FOUR – Fixated, Obsessive, Unwanted, Repeated – describes stalking behaviour, and this contact can be in person, by gifts, or via social media, email or messaging apps.