Leading City Councillors are raising awareness of stalking and the importance of personal safety, following National Stalking Awareness Week (24-28 April).
Stalking can include many types of unwanted behaviour, online or in-person and can cause major disruption to the victim’s life.
The four main characteristics of stalking behaviour are:
Stalking is a crime and can happen to anyone, it will affect 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men in their lifetime.
Councillor Emily Darlington, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities on Milton Keynes City Council, has been a victim of stalking. She said:
“Having experienced stalking first-hand, I know how distressing it can be. It’s terrifying and you constantly feel on edge about what’s going to happen next. We need to continue to educate people to recognise the signs of stalking and reassure victims they aren’t alone. I hope by sharing my own experience it encourages other victims to speak out. We shouldn’t accept this kind of behaviour and that’s why I want Milton Keynes to become the first White Ribbon city so that all girls and women feel safe.”
This year’s theme is ‘Standing Against Stalking: Supporting Young People’ which focuses on educating young people aged 16-24 about the dangers of stalking.
A recent survey carried out by Suzy Lamplugh Trust found that 77% of respondents to the survey had experienced at least one repeated harmful behaviour consistent with stalking. Whilst 84% of respondents had experienced behaviours consistent with stalking online and 70% experienced in-person behaviours.
Councillor Jane Carr, Cabinet Member for Tackling Social Inequalities on Milton Keynes City Council, added:
“Stalking can happen both in person and online, and with the rise of smartphones and social media most cases will involve online contact. The City Council want to raise awareness of this issue to keep young people across the city safe.”
The White Ribbon Campaign is a leading charity that engages with boys and men, asking them to promise to never commit, excuse, or remain silent about male violence against women.
Last year the City Council fulfilled its Council Plan commitment and became a White Ribbon accredited organisation. Organisations can get more information about White Ribbon accreditation online athttps://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/organisations
If you’re experiencing stalking or harassment, there are a number of local charities and organisations who can help support you and provide further information:
Suzy Lamplugh Trust: The aims to reduce the risk and prevalence of abuse, aggression, and violence – with a specific focus on stalking and harassment – through education, campaigning, and support.
National Stalking Helpline: Advice for victims of harassment or stalking. Phone 0808 802 0300.
Thames Valley Police: Support for victims of stalking and harassment.