More than 1.5 million cases of stalking are reported each year in the UK. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust campaigns on behalf of those being stalked to increase awareness and provide practical advice. They also campaign to improve the response of the agencies involved in supporting victims, like police, criminal justice and social services.
What is stalking?
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust (SLT) defines stalking as a pattern of unwanted and persistent behaviour that is motivated by a fixation or obsession that causes a victim to suffer alarm, distress or a fear of violence. The law states that it’s illegal for a person to pursue a course of conduct that they know or ought to know amounts to stalking. A course of conduct refers to two or more incidents of unwanted behaviour.
Stalking can involve a wide range of offences and behaviours, including persistent emails, non-stop phone calls, loitering, spying, threats, tracking, threatening suicide, upsetting letters, hacking email, or social media abuse.
The related CPS guidance on stalking states: “There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ stalking perpetrator or a ‘typical’ stalking victim. This crime disproportionately affects women and girls; however, it is important to recognise that men and boys may be victims too. Stalking affects people of all ages, and victims come from a wide range of backgrounds – stalking is not restricted to public figures and celebrities.
“We are also aware that people with a longstanding illness or disability are disproportionately likely to be victims of stalking.”
Stalking often makes a huge impact on the individuals being stalked. It can mean they have to change daily routines and make big changes in their lifestyle. Of course, this can have a serious impact on mental health and wellbeing.
Stalking is a crime in England and Wales under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, in Scotland under the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 2010, and is dealt with in Northern Ireland under the Protection from Harassment Order (NI) 1997.
Of the 1.5 million cases reported between April 2019 and March 2020, there were just 1,558 convictions for stalking (all offences).
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust campaigns to get more convictions of stalking and to improve the response of the agencies involved in supporting victims, like police, criminal justice and social services.
Working with the police
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust works with the police to help understanding of the complex nature of stalking and how it is often a pattern of behaviour that is hard to identify. The risks can be underplayed, and the SLT aims to help officers understand the forms it can take and the risks involved. The support and training also involve explaining and promoting the use of Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs).
These became available under the Stalking Protection Act in 2019 and enable early police intervention in a stalking case. They can be effective in helping to stop stalking or prevent it escalating.
Mental health and wellbeing training
The impact of stalking can be traumatic and often the effect on the individual can be comparable to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is therefore important that people who provide support to victims of stalking understand its impact and the best ways of offering support. The SLT provides training for those responsible for supporting victims of stalking.
Multi-agency stalking intervention
The SLT has piloted the multi-agency stalking intervention programme (Masip) across three sites in London, Cheshire and Hampshire. This was started in 2018 in response to the fact that 50% of those convicted of stalking re-offend. There is an obvious need to break this cycle. The SLT continues to manage the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre in London, where individuals are provided with a tailored package of interventions to help them cease this damaging and criminal behaviour.
How can security professionals help people being stalked?
Security officers and security teams can often be well placed to support those being stalked. Below are some initial suggested steps to take to improve your response:
- Work with your HR team to understand any policies and procedures in place to support people being stalked. Then review any security practices to integrate with these procedures. If there are no policies in place, work with HR to develop them.
- Encourage people to let you know if they think they are being stalked and work out how the security team can keep the individual safe.
- Encourage those being stalked to seek support from a specialist stalking service such as the National Stalking Helpline (see contact details).
- If appropriate, carry out a security review for individuals who believe they are being
- stalked (looking at their physical security, their travel arrangements, their IT). Discuss any proposed enhanced security measures with the individual and a stalking specialist.
- Liaise with your IT team to ensure the individual is aware of good cyber security.See the related Suzy Lamplugh report Online Harms.
- Encourage the individual to keep a record of what is happening and keep records of any related incidents in security logs.
- Keep leaflets with advice and guidance available (for example, from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust) and share these where needed.
- Refer to the Guide for Employers to support victims of stalking; https://www.suzylamplugh.org/news/new-guide-for-employers-to-support-victims-of-stalking-soloprotect-uk
Are you being stalked?
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust categorises behaviour as stalking where four key elements are present: it is fixated (where someone is thinking about someone to an excessive degree), obsessive, unwanted, repeated.
For anyone who thinks they may being stalked, the SLT website offers an assessment tool: Am I being stalked? This easy-to-use-tool tool helps you carefully consider what is happening and what to do.
The National Stalking Helpline can provide practical help and advice. In summary, the key steps to follow are:
- Cease all contact with the individual you think is stalking you
- Report the stalking to the police at the earliest opportunity
- Keep a record of all incidents (calls, emails, any contact)
- Improve your digital and physical safety
- Seek support from the National Stalking Helpline.
Contacting the National Stalking Helpline
The National Stalking Helpline is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, in partnership with Network for Surviving Stalking and Protection Against Stalking. The National Stalking Helpline is freephone, including free from most mobiles.
Calls to the Helpline are confidential
Freephone: 0808 802 0300
Open 09:30 to 16:00 weekdays (except Wednesday 13:00 to 16:00)