This week is National Stalking Awareness Week, where charities, agencies and police forces across the country join together to raise awareness of stalking.
This year, the campaign is looking to ‘unmask stalking’ and highlight how the national lockdown has changed the way in which stalkers target their victims.
With people’s physical movements being restricted due to the pandemic, over the past year charities and police forces have seen an increase in the number of victims who are being stalked online or through technology. With their physical movements being restricted, it seems that stalkers haven’t stopped stalking – they have just moved to new ways of targeting their victims.
With the huge increase in the popularity of home technology such as electronic doorbells and smart home devices which allow you to control your lighting and heating from your phone and the fact that many homes now having at least one voice controlled assistant device – these new technologies sadly give stalkers new routes to exploit.
Throughout the week, we will be highlighting this change in stalker behaviour and sharing information about how you can protect your tech.
What is stalking?
Stalking is repeated, unwanted contact from one person to another which causes the victim to feel distressed or fearful and it is a crime.
That contact can be made in several different ways – whether in person, or online, by text message, through social media, through messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Snapchat or by accessing any of your smart home devices such as electronic doorbells or voice assisted devices.
If you are not sure you are being stalked – think FOUR. Is the behaviour being targeted at you by an offender fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated? If so – it’s stalking and it’s a crime.
Stalking devastates lives and has been described by some as murder in slow motion. In a digital world, it’s a crime that can take place all too easily and frequently and it seems that lockdown has caused stalkers to move to using more and more technological means to continue to try and incite fear into a victim.
If you are being stalked you can report it to North Yorkshire Police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
When many people hear the word stalking they still think of a stranger lurking in the shadows While this may describe some stalking scenarios they are by no means the majority. About 55% of stalking victims who contact the National Stalking Helpline are stalked by an ex-intimate partner and 96% of stalking victims know their stalker in some capacity; you may have dated, married or been a friend with your stalker. Just because you know/knew the stalker does not mean that the situation is your fault – it is still stalking and it is wrong. Find out more about the different types of stalker here.
Who is a typical victim of stalking?
Anyone can become a victim of stalking. The latest findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales show that, in the year ending March 2018, stalking was experienced by women and men aged 16 to 74 years across almost all ethnic groups, occupations, disabilities, marital and employment statuses. In 2016/17, 67% of callers to the National Stalking Helpline were female victims with male stalkers, but 23% were male victims around a quarter of whom had a male stalker.
What can you do?
The most important thing is to tell someone. Stalking thrives on secrecy – if people know they can help to keep you safe. You can contact the National Stalking Helpline for advice about your options and safety planning. To report incidents to the police, call 101, but if you ever feel in danger, call 999 immediately.
If you can, try to keep a log of any incidents and any evidence you may have is will help us to see that these are not isolated incidents and the pattern of behaviour. But, please remember that you do not need to have made a log, or have collected evidence to make a report to the police or get help.
Agencies such as the National Stalking Helpline have announced that over lockdown, 100% of the calls they received from victims stated that they were being stalked through some form of digital or virtual means – whether online, in social media, through messaging apps or through their smart home devices – such as electronic doorbells or smart speakers.
It seems that, despite their physical movements being restricted by lockdown, stalkers didn’t stop stalking – they simply changed the way they stalk.
Nowadays we are surrounded by technology that connects us to friends and family. Smart home devices, voice controlled devices and heating and lighting control apps have grown in popularity, thanks to the convenience they bring. However, these devices also give a unique insight into an individuals daily life, their comings and goings from a property or deliveries and visitors – all of which can be used to inform a stalker of daily routines and give them a route to stalk inside the home.
Inspector Clare Crossan from our Stalking Support Team and Detective Sergeant Gavin Mayes have come together to make a video, highlighting this type of offending and offering practical advice and support on how you can keep stalkers out of your home technology. Click below to watch
Other useful information
- Essential information for victims of stalking (opens in new window)
- Top tips: what to do if you are being stalked (opens in new window)
- Myths and realities of stalking (opens in new window)
- Types of stalking (opens in new window)
- Request a ‘How To Record Incidents and Collect Evidence’ flyer’ (opens in new window)
- Harassment (opens in new window)
For help & support
If you, or someone you know, is affected by any of the issues on this page, help is available.
You will find the website addresses and telephone numbers of organisations that provide help and support for people affected by harassment and stalking below.
- National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 | The National Stalking Helpline is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Calls are free from all landline telephones and also from mobiles using the O2, Orange, T Mobile, Three (3), Virgin, and Vodafone networks. Calls will not be shown on BT landline bills.
- Paladin National Advocacy Service: 0203 866 4107 | Paladin National Advocacy Service is the only trauma informed national advocacy service for victims of stalking. They have independent stalking advocate caseworkers who can assist if you need specialist advice or support.
You can also contact:
IDAS – 03000 110 110 (24 hr national helpline 0808 2000 247 )
Women’s Aid – Helpline 0808 2000 247
Men’s advice line – Helpline 0808 8010 327
ManKind Initiative – 01823 334244
Report stalking or harassment
If you wish to report incidents of stalking or harassment, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or if it’s an emergency, always call 999.