Stalking is a heinous crime. Not only is it a cowardly display of predatory behaviour, but it can leave victims coping with the impact and trauma long after the stalking has stopped. The news yesterday that offences have gone up in London in the last two years is a real concern. These alarming figures are a shocking warning for us all that as a society we need to wake up and work together to stamp this behaviour out.
It is simply not right that any Londoner should feel unsafe going about their daily lives and I fully support the Met’s new crackdown targeting offenders. This National Stalking Awareness Week, we must use this moment to all work together to deliver real change.
Importantly, this includes bridging the gap between victims and support services, after research by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust found that three quarters of respondents who experienced stalking in the UK in all its many forms are not receiving vital specialist support.
I’m proud of the investment the Mayor is making and the work we are doing to ensure that victims of stalking in all its forms have access to advice and support in London. This includes working with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust on the London Stalking Support Service which offers victims support and ensures that their voices are heard.
But it is just as important that we address the obsession and fixation of stalkers. We are investing in programmes that are focused on addressing and changing the behaviour of perpetrators of abuse, in order to protect those at risk of any form of violence – including addressing the behaviour of those perpetrating stalking. Through the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre, partners including the Met Police, probation, NHS London and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust are working together to tackle offending behaviour and keep victims safe. We must address the culture behind stalking and ensure that nobody feels able to persistently harass and stalk someone because of their own personal obsession.
My message to anyone who is experiencing stalking is speak out, don’t be afraid to talk so someone. You can contact the National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 for support. Call 999 if you feel in immediate danger and press 55 if you are unable to speak.
Sophie Linden is London's Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime