One in five women and one in ten men will be stalked at some point in their life.
Cheshire Police is committed to dealing with all reports of stalking and harassment and is reminding people that this kind of behaviour may result in criminal prosecution. It has now been two years since the launch of the National Stalking Helpline. It is receiving more calls than ever before. An offence of stalking is still in the political pipeline but action is currently possible under the Protection from Harassment Act.
Detective Sergeant Angela Burns, from the Cheshire Police Strategic Public protection Unit said, "We take all reports of stalking and harassment very seriously and take positive action to protect victims of this crime and ensure support services are offered.
"The effects on a victim can be feelings of isolation, helplessness and violation. Twenty five per cent of victims develop suicidal thoughts and many have to make lifestyle changes."
Stalking and harassment can be hard to define as it encompasses a wide variety of behaviours. Forms of harassment can range from someone seeking a romantic relationship to violent predatory behaviour being carried out. Even in cases where there is no physical assault, stalking changes lives; victims have described stalking as mental rape. Stalkers, in the vast majority of cases are known to the victim, they may have had a casual or intimate association, however they can also be strangers.
Online communication has provided another outlet for stalkers to harass their victims, it is important that it is recognised as seriously as ′off line′ stalking. Research carried out by the National Stalking Helpline found that 54.7% of men and 43.1% of women gave up social activities as a result of being cyberstalked. A guide called ′Digital Stalking: A guide to technology risks′ has been published and provides victims with invaluable information and advice.
Anyone being stalked or harassed should come forward, so they can receive the help and support required. More advice is available on the Cheshire Police website http://www.cheshire.police.uk/or you can call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300. If you are in danger always dial 999, in a non emergency dial 101.