Stalking is a crime – let’s talk about it
Scotland’s leading charity for people affected by crime, Victim Support Scotland, is encouraging anyone experiencing stalking to come forward and ask for support during the coronavirus outbreak.
Movement restrictions intended to reduce the spread of coronavirus may make it easier for stalkers to intimidate and harass their targets. The coronavirus lockdown means that people are predominately at home and potentially easier to be located by their stalker. As some people turn to online networks to stay in touch, they may become more vulnerable to cyber stalkers or bullies.
The call-out from Victim Support Scotland comes during National Stalking Awareness Week (20 – 24 April) which marks 10-years of the introduction of legislation in Scotland that made stalking behaviours illegal.
After years of stalking and harassment from her ex-partner, Elaine* was supported by Victim Support Scotland and commented:
“This lockdown situation is devastating. People will feel trapped, aware that a stalker knows where they are for most of the day and night. Without social contact to help them feel safe and reassured, victims will feel isolated and incredibly fearful.
“Many victims are forced to close their social media accounts, meaning they might feel even more isolated right now. They might worry that there is a lack of immediate help, thinking the police will be too busy because of coronavirus. Their stress levels will be so high, it will impact on physical and mental well-being. It is really important that people in this situation feel able to come forward and receive support.”
Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, commented:
“As well as people like Elaine, whose stalker was her ex-partner, 41% of people have never met the person stalking them, according to latest the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey*. Over two thirds of stalking victims have received unwanted messages sent by text, email or messengers, and posts on social media. These figures are sure to rise as the lockdown situation exacerbates the problem, leaving people more vulnerable.
“Victim Support Scotland is able to support people irrespective of if the crime has been reported to the police or not. We would urge anyone who thinks they are being stalked to contact us via our helpline or webchat service. Our support workers are here to listen and guide you through your options.”
Victim Support Scotland’s national helpline is the only Scottish-based helpline that supports victims of stranger stalking where there no previous relationship or sexual element.
Anyone affected by stalking can contact us on 0800 160 1985 and we are available 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday. We support people from all backgrounds who have experienced all types of crime.
UK-wide, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust offers a National Stalking helpline, which is available for everyone affected by stalking: 0808 802 0300.
National Stalking Awareness Week also marks 10-years since the creation of Action Against Stalking. The charity was set up by Ann Moulds who successfully campaigned for the creation and inclusion of Section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scot) Act 2010 which enables crimes of stalking to be prosecuted based on the behaviour of the stalker and the effects it has had on the victim.
* Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2017-2018