News from Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Conference support for National Stalking Awareness Day

With National Stalking Awareness Day taking place next week, The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence is holding a special event to highlight the issue.
The conference – which will take place on Monday 15 April at The University of Worcester – will raise awareness of the new stalking laws and will complement National Stalking Awareness Day which takes place throughout the country on Thursday 18 April.

A joint venture between The University of Worcester, The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence and The Protection Against Stalking Charity, the half day event will welcome speakers Laura Richards, Criminal Behavioural Analyst and Advisor; Tricia Bernal, who’s daughter Clare was murdered; Sam Taylor, a victim of stalking; Ruth Jones, Programme Lead for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Abuse at the University; Martin Lakeman, Strategic Co-ordinator for The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.

Martin Lakeman, Strategic Co-ordinator for The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence explained : “Whilst this event coincides with raising awareness of the new laws surrounding stalking, the power and impact of the event will be listening to the devastating impact on victims, survivors and their families.  Both Tricia and Sam were pivotal in the campaign to implement this new legislation.”

The event – which takes place from 9.30am until 1.00pm – is open to all professionals working in both West Mercia and Warwickshire.

The new legislation has been welcomed by professionals in the field; for the first time stalking is now recognised as a form of harassment.  Under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 – amended under The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 – there are now offences of stalking and harassment in British law.

The new law in England and Wales provides a non-exhaustive list of behaviours be viewed as stalking and this includes following a person, publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to a person, monitoring the use of a person via the internet, loitering in any place - whether public or private - contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means.  The perpetrator does not need to be threatening violence before stalking becomes a criminal offence. Under section 4A of the new stalking law, behaviour that causes serious distress is viewed equally as behaviour that involves a fear of violence.
The facts around stalking make for sobering reading :
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will be stalked at some point in their lives;
  • 40 per cent of victims are stalked by an ex-partner; crucially, in many cases the partner would have been emotionally or physically abusive during the relationship;
  • Ex-partner stalking cases carry the highest risk of escalation to physical violence;
  • On average, a stalker will contact 21 people connected to the victim. This may include family, friends, employer, neighbours; even, in some cases, the victim’s regular gym or favourite cafĂ©;
  • It is becoming more common for stalkers to use technology like GPS on mobiles, tracker devices or spyware on phones to locate a victim;
Martin concluded : “The Forum thoroughly supports the change in law and the crucial recognition that this now gives to those that have been effected by stalking and harassment.  Our event will provide professionals with the awareness and tools to be able to help victims and their families and encourage them to come forward and never to suffer in silence.”
Residents in Worcestershire can report abuse in confidence by contacting their local police station or in an emergency by phoning 999.  For free confidential information, support and advice they can phone the dedicated 24 hour helpline 0800 980 3331 or contact The National Stalking helpline on 0808 802 0300.

For further information about The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse please contact Martin Lakeman on 01905 822 357.

To call in confidence about domestic abuse call 0800 980 3331.