Stalking victims in South Yorkshire urged not to suffer in silence

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Stalking victims in South Yorkshire are being urged not to suffer in silence.

As National Stalking Awareness Week draws to a close, Pete Horner, manager of South Yorkshire Police’s Public Protection Unit, reminded the public that stalking and harassment are crimes.

He said one in six women and one in 12 men will be stalked at some point in their lives.

Stalking is repeated, unwanted contact from one person to another.

It may involve personal contact but can also happen over the phone, via email, letter or social media.

Mr Horner 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 indeed, which is why we need to know about it at the earliest opportunity.

“The hard truth is that stalking and harassment is a crime and 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 nationally 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.