National Stalking Awareness day logo
Victims of stalking are encouraged to come forward as part of today's National Stalking Awareness Day.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens is encouraging residents affected by this type of offence to report it in support of the event.
In November the national legislation to tackle stalking changed, giving even victims more protection. This saw two specific criminal offences of stalking come into force in England and Wales for the first time.
As part of National Stalking Awareness Day, PCCs, police forces and charities across the country are working to highlight the issue, as well as the signs and the help that is available to all.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Raising awareness of the crime is essential in encouraging people to come forward and seek help from the police or other agencies. Stalking is unacceptable and it is a criminal offence.
“I would urge anyone affected by this crime not to suffer in silence. Please come forward and seek the help you deserve to protect you from anyone who may want to cause you harm.”
National statistics have highlighted that 39% partners or ex-partners are offenders of this crime, and in 36% of the cases the victim knows their offender.
In December last year Avon and Somerset police secured one of the first convictions for this offence.
The offender, a 28-year-old man from Bournemouth, received a three month prison sentence at Bournemouth magistrates’ court.
In this case, the offender stalked a woman who he had previously been in a relationship with. He displayed extreme jealous tendencies and his actions left the victim very distressed.
Dutch-born Jeffery Van Riemsdijk, aged 17, befriended a girl from Street on an online gaming site and then flew to England after sending her a series of sinister messages.
His behaviour amounted to stalking and he was sentenced to a two year restraining order, was deported and restricted from entering the country for two years.
Detective Inspector Katie Boxer from the force Public Protection Unit said: "This sentence highlights that both we and the courts view these offences seriously and we will do as much as we can to protect you from harm.
DI Boxer has this advice for anyone who is being stalked, she said: "As hard as it may be we would encourage you to keep a diary of the abuse you have suffered. It could be someone has taken your phone, followed you, checked your email or social networking sites, this is wrong and it is a crime."
If you have been a victim of stalking or harassment then you can contact us on 999 or 101.
Posted on Thursday 18th April 2013