South Yorkshire Police have urged people to report any concerns they have about stalking or harassment.
As National Stalking Awareness Week draws to a close, Pete Horner, the force lead for stalking and harassment and manager of the Public Protection Unit, reminded the public that it is vital to raise awareness of the crime so that more people can be protected.
One in six women and one in 12 men will be stalked at some point in their lives.
Stalking is repeated, unwanted contract from one person to another, which demonstrates either a fixation or obsession and causes the victim to feel alarm, distress or fear of violence.
It may involve personal contact but can also happen over the phone, via email, letter or social media.
Pete said: “Stalking can mean so many different things and includes many different behaviours, which is why this week is so important.
“We need the public to recognise that harassment and stalking can take many forms and if someone has concerns, they need to know who to tell and where to go for advice.
“There are many myths surrounding stalking, including that it only happens to celebrities or high-profile people, or that stalking in itself is not really that dangerous.
“This is not true. Stalking can happen to anyone and can, in some circumstances, lead to very serious and nasty crimes, which is why we need to know about it at the earliest opportunity.
“We will not tolerate individuals who feel they can treat people in this manner.
“Stalking can be a terrifying and isolating experience that leaves its victims in a permanent state of fear and anxiety. It can rob an individual of their quality of life and this is not acceptable.
“The number of stalking reports we’ve received over the last two years are low and we think that, as a crime, it is under-reported.
“Perhaps this is because victims are afraid of their stalker, or because they aren’t really sure if what is happening to them could be classed as stalking, but I hope that this week has helped demonstrate that victims can come forward and their reports will be taken seriously and investigated.”
Call 101 to report stalking or harassment, or if a life is at risk call 999.
For more information, visit www.southyorks.police.uk/content/stalking-and-harassment
Advice and support is also available from the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 032 0300 or by email email@example.com, or Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service, on 0207 8408 960.