Today marks the start of National Stalking and Harassment Awareness Week (8th – 12th April).
Cumbria Police are joining an IPOC led campaign focusing on raising awareness of a the silent solution system allowing the public to contact police through 999 without speaking.
The silent solution system works through a ‘prompt’ if a caller doesn’t speak to the operator after dialling 999. If a caller cannot, for any reason make a sound, they will be prompted to press ’55’ if the call is genuine and they are in need of an emergency police response.
Talking about the system, Detective Inspector Dan St Quintin said: “Raising awareness of this system is vital, and we need to make sure that everyone understands how to use it. There are many reasons a person might be in need of police support but not be able to make noise on their 999 call.
“We are supporting the IOPC-led ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign to increase awareness of this system which will run through this week. I hope the Cumbrian community will help us to spread awareness of this vital service by sharing our social media posts and talking about it to friends and relatives”.
The awareness week will also see the Constabulary raise awareness of, stalking and harassment behaviours, recent changes in legislation, and will encourage reporting.
Stalking behaviours include (but not exhaustive):
- contacting/attempting to contact the victim;
- publishing statements or material about the victim;
- monitoring the victim (including online);
- loitering in a public or private place;
- interfering with property;
- watching or spying.
Cumbria Constabulary will be using the week as a platform to highlighted a new piece of legislation on the Constabulary’s social media accounts. The government backed Stalking Protection Bill received Royal Assent on the 15th March 2019, more information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-backed-stalking-protection-bill-receives-royal-assent.
The bill allows police to issue a Stalking Protection Order to protect victims from stalking, abuse and harassment before a criminal investigation has concluded. Breach of such an order is a criminal offence resulting in sanctions including up to a five year custodial sentence. Orders can also mandate restrictions and requirements on a perpetrator such as stopping certain behaviours, or attending programmes which aim to prevent reoffending.
Detective Inspector, Dan St Quintin added: “This new legislation will provide police with the opportunity to impose potentially lifesaving sanctions earlier in cases. This will provide the victim with clear, prompt, tangible action to keep them safe whilst a criminal investigation is conducted. Imposing an order should send a clear message to perpetrators, ‘your actions are unacceptable’ and there will be consequences should they be breached”.
“Becoming a victim of stalking can happen to anyone, at any time. We take any reports of stalking and harassment seriously, all reports are thoroughly investigate with appropriate support and safeguarding considered.
“Everyone has the right to live their life without fear and harassment. The nature of this type of crime is particularly distressing because the perpetrator is directly targeting a person. Stalking can have a devastating effect on a victim and their loved ones, and we will continue to work hard to bring anyone found responsible to justice.
“I would urge anyone who has concerns around stalking and harassment to report them to the police immediately.”
Anyone who would like to report an incident of stalking, or concerns should call Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. Always dial 999 in an emergency.