DC Martin O'Neill
Based in Maidstone, West Division | Joined Kent Police in 1984
At a recent conference Laura Richards, a recognised expert on domestic abuse and stalking, discussed guidance for people who believe they may be victims.
Laura spearheaded the successful campaign to add stalking offences to the harassment act, a campaign that will potentially save many lives in the future. I am grateful to Laura for giving me permission to use some of her material for these blogs.
So, would you know what to do if you are suffering at the hands of a stalker? If the honest answer is no, please keep reading. If the answer was yes, humour me and keep reading as well – there may be something you find useful.
Being stalked or harassed can be extremely alarming and frightening. It is the repetition of the behaviour that makes it even more sinister. Recent advice issued for victims is summed up using the mnemonic REPORT – hopefully this makes it a little easier to remember.
REPORT IT AND TELL OTHERS - contact the police and talk to your family and friends.
ENSURE YOU GET GOOD ADVICE - talk to people with experience of this issue - call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 8020 300 or visit www.stalkinghelpline.org
Be PROACTIVE – it is advised that you keep all messages, gifts, communications, letters, and preserve them. If you are followed in a car, drive to an area where you know there are CCTV cameras. I must stress however that if you feel in immediate danger you should try to find somewhere safe and call 999 immediately.
OVERVIEW: KEEP A DIARY - log what is happening including the time, date and details. If you have reported the matter already, we have log books that we can provide. Once again, it must be stressed, if you feel you are in immediate danger, the diary is no substitute for calling the police on 999.
RISK CHECKLIST – once reported, the police will usually ask you questions in order to complete a risk screening checklist. If you think you are at risk, and a checklist has not already been completed, you can download and complete your own - see link at the end of this blog. Once completed, pass this to the police for them to consider.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS AND NEVER MAKE CONTACT WITH YOUR STALKER - if you are frightened or worried, call 999 or go to a safe place (or both). It is advised that victims do not contact or respond to a stalker in any other way.