Nottinghamshire Police has been praised for proactive way it has used new legislation to protect victims of stalking.
In January 2020 an additional civil power came into law to empower police to intervene early in stalking cases and take immediate measures against perpetrators.
Stalking Protection Orders are designed to address problem behaviours before they become entrenched or escalate, protecting victims from more serious harm, alarm or distress.
Crucially they can be applied for and enacted before a case becomes a criminal matter and goes before the courts.
The force has now been praised by the Home Office for its proactive and timely use of the orders, which prohibit suspects – mostly men – from having further contact with victims and can also compel them to take positive actions to address their behaviour.
Between January 2020 and June 2021 Nottinghamshire Police has successfully applied to the courts for 17 such orders.
In the same period the force brought criminal prosecutions against 90 people suspected of stalking.
Stalking Prevention Orders, which run alongside – not instead of – criminal prosecutions, are an additional tool for officers to use before the conclusion of criminal cases and are now considered as part of every stalking investigation.
In a letter to Chief Constable Craig Guildford, Rachel Maclean MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for safeguarding, said: “I would like to thank you very much for your effective use of this important tool and would encourage you to keep up the good work and continue to consider applying for a Stalking Prevention Order in every stalking case.”
Superintendent Pete Quinn, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Stalking offences can have a very significant impact on the lives of victims – the majority of whom are women.
“The unwanted and repeated actions of stalkers seriously damage a victims ability to lead a normal life that most of us take for granted.”
“The people who commit these offences become fixated with victims in a way which can escalate in the worse ways imaginable if police and partners do not intervene.”
“Our priority as police officers is to stop these behaviours from escalating and to safeguard victims from further harm, alarm or distress. In order to do that we take a very proactive, intervention-based approach – contacting, arresting and interviewing suspects to send a very clear message about their behaviour.
“Stalking Prevention Orders are yet another tool for us to use and I am delighted that our very proactive use of these orders has been recognised.”
Chief Constable Guildford said he was delighted the force’s public protection team had been recognised nationally for its commitment to protecting people from stalkers.
“Our dedicated public protection officers work incredibly hard to safeguard people – often very vulnerable victims – and will we use every power at our disposal to help us do that,” he said.
“This letter is a testament to the work these officers do and I hope it gives the public of Nottinghamshire reassurance that we take stalking seriously and putting victim safety first.”
Stalking offences are defined by a pattern of fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated behaviours aimed at a specific individual or individuals – in person or through remote means such as social media.
Detective Chief Inspector Jo Elbourn, tactical stalking lead for Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Victims of stalking may have very different experiences. They may be followed or spied upon, or may received large amounts of unwanted correspondence or gifts.
“We understand, however, that not all victims feel comfortable about approaching the police for help. Others, meanwhile, may not actually realise that the behaviours they have experienced are actually offences for stalking.
“Our message to them is simple – if you are concerned about somebody’s behaviour towards you then please contact the police. We are here to listen and we will take very swift action if we feel it is necessary.”
People who believe they are the victim of stalking are urged to contact Nottinghamshire Police:
Anyone in immediate danger at any time, should always call 999.
Those who are frightened, but not in immediate danger contact 101 or report it online.
For further information please refer to:
The National Stalking Helpline can also be contacted on 0808 802 0300.