Targeted action during National Stalking Awareness Week
Officers across London are stepping up work to hunt down stalking offenders in targeted action throughout National Stalking Awareness Week.
Officers will focus on driving down the number of outstanding stalking offenders in a concerted effort led by our Predatory Offender Units.
Commander Kevin Southworth, the Met’s newly appointed head of Public Protection, said: “We are continuing to listen to what women and girls are telling us about their experiences and feelings about safety in London, and we are working hard to ensure they can go about their lives feeling safe.
“We fully understand how stalking heightens concerns about violence against women and girls. We are particularly aware 80 per cent of stalking victims have been female, however we will continue to do everything we can to provide support to all victims of stalking.
“Stalkers terrorise victims over and over again, leaving them struggling to feel safe. We want to help victims of stalking to report their perpetrator, we want them to feel safe and relaxed again without having their lives manipulated by one person. Everyone has a right to feel safe in London.”
We have seen a stark rise in the number of stalking cases during the past year with more than 1,000 cases per month, compared with 200 cases per month prior to April 2020. More victims may have come forward following a greater intolerance of stalking in society.
Stalking has changed, in 2020-21, 100 per cent of the 22,676 victims who contacted The National Stalking Helpline reported the presence of a cyber-element by stalkers. Cyber-stalking is no longer a niche crime or an emerging threat – it is what stalking is today.
Action to arrest perpetrators and support victims of stalking goes on daily across London, this is enhanced activity to raise awareness during this national week.
Stalking Awareness week - which runs from Monday, 25 to Friday, 29 April - is led by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust in partnership with police forces and other professionals to raise awareness of stalking and the role of victim advocates.
Across the week, advocates from the Trust will be providing a number of training events for our officers and staff. This will help to further educate them on stalking typologies and provide investigative tips to take robust action against offenders and to best support victims. Officers will also be given a chance to hear from a barrister, who will provide advice to help ensure successful convictions.
Commander Kevin Southworth will also be speaking at an online conference hosted by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. He will be among a number of speakers to help build on the collaborative work by specialist organisations who work with stalking victims.
The Met continues to be a key partner in the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (STAC) which aims to reduce reoffending and improve public safety. It works to increase early intervention to reduce the risk of offenders becoming violent and improve our response to victims.
Police officers, alongside mental health specialists, probation officers and victim advocates are based at the STAC. They offer expert advice to local officers in relation to stalking allegations, identifying risks, and assisting with management plans to protect the victim and public from the stalker.
The team also identify perpetrators who may be suitable to undertake a behaviour change programme. These individuals may also be referred to other community services, where appropriate. The National Probation Service work alongside officers to manage the ongoing risk such offenders pose to the community and to their victim.
A man who was jailed after being convicted of stalking and causing serious harm and distress has welcomed the opportunity he had to change his behaviour and turn his life around. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was sentenced to 16 months in prison and was issued with a restraining order after being convicted for stalking a victim, predominately online.
He was released from prison last year and is currently being supported and managed under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).
He said: “I know it sounds bizarre and going to prison was horrendous, but it’s afforded me the opportunity to start afresh and fix a lot of problems in my life.
“I was on a destructive spiral mentally and my new life is so much better as a result of your intervention. And on top of that I now have a greater understanding and awareness of the way I was behaving and I’m glad I was educated at an early age to put me on the right path. And on top of all that you treated me with respect.”
Commander Kevin Southworth, added: “We know stalking can ruin lives and we would urge victims of this crime to come forward to police.
“Stalking advocates are available to provide independent support and advice to victims. We will continue to work with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and other partners to ensure we are doing everything possible to support victims of this crime.
“I would like to urge those responsible to seek help to stop their behaviour. We want to ensure they get the help they need. Far from being in any position of power over their victims, they are in fact in need of help themselves – if you don’t seek help you will end up in prison for the hurt and pain you are causing.
“We want women and girls to feel confident that when they report violence, stalking, harassment and abuse, we will take it seriously. This is really important to us.”
+ To get stalking advice and help visit suzylamplugh.org or call 0808 802 0300. In an emergency always dial 999.