18 April 2013

Focus on... awareness of stalking - what not to do

DC Martin O'Neill
Investigator trainer

Based in Maidstone, West Division  |  Joined Kent Police in 1984

Hello all,

Today is National Stalking Awareness Day, one of the many reasons why I'm writing this blog. Take a look online to see what people are saying. On Twitter? Follow #knowthelaw #usethelaw and #NSAD.

Right then, let’s move onto the dos and don’ts. This is not a definitive list but definitely some things to consider.

  • DO - report the matter to police. 

  • DO - contact the National Stalking Helpline for advice and support.

  • DO - let others know about what’s going on.

  • DO - keep records of what has been happening.

  • DO - change your passwords regularly. This can be particularly important if the stalker is an ex-partner who may know your commonly used passwords.

  • DO NOT - ignore it and hope it will go away. Research has demonstrated the persistence of stalkers.

  • DO NOT - meet up with a stalker. This could put you at risk of harm, even if you know them. It may also be possible that other people try to make something of the fact that you have met them, jumping to the wrong conclusion.

  • DO NOT - delete messages/voicemails or throw away items you may have been sent – these may be able to be used as evidence. The Criminal Justice System requires evidence and often what you think is irrelevant might be important.
    NOTE: If you are reading this and have already discarded evidence, don’t worry - it is still important to report the matter and there may be other ways to capture evidence.

  • DO NOT - isolate yourself by withdrawing from using social networking sites, phones or e-mail.

  • DO NOT - engage family, friends or anyone else to ‘have a word’ with the stalker. It is rare that such encounters are productive and they can make matters much worse. It might be possible that an offender can use such incidents to make counter allegations.

  • DO NOT - listen to yourself or others when they try to minimise what is happening to you. Stalking is serious and blights people’s lives. 

  • DO NOT - immediately change your status on Facebook or other social networking sites if you have just finished a relationship. If the stalker is an ex-partner this can sometimes make things worse.

What not to say

With the best intentions, people can sometimes give advice or make comments to victims that can have an unintended detrimental effect, advice that is also sometimes dangerous. Here are some of the most common that are mentioned to advisors at the National Stalking Helpline:

‘You’re being a bit dramatic aren’t you?’, ‘Are you sure you’re not being a bit paranoid?’, ‘I wish I had a stalker’, ‘If they were going to harm you they would have done it already’, ‘If you didn’t look at the stuff, it wouldn’t upset you’

If someone you know talks to you about a situation that is worrying them, it will probably have taken a lot of courage to do so. Try to support them, remember what you’ve read this week and encourage them to come forward so police can investigate.

Later this evening I’ll be writing about stalking/harassment logs and what information can help police investigations.

Thanks for reading,


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