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North Wales Police appoint new dedicated stalking co-ordinator

Kerry Sidney

“Stalking is a serious crime that causes long term psychological harm on victims. It is extremely important that we provide the best service to victims.”

These are the words of North Wales Police’s new stalking co-ordinator, Kerry Sidney.

Her role is to improve the way the force recognises and responds to reports of stalking.

Kerry has worked in the force’s protecting vulnerable people unit for five years and will now be using her experiences to support police officers to better recognise stalking and safeguard victims.

This will include supporting them with Stalking Protection Order (SPO) applications – a civil order aimed to protect victims and prevent perpetrators from further stalking a victim.

Kerry said: “As a force, we are already committed to eradicating violence against women and girls, but my main focus in this role is to improve how we recognise and respond to stalking.

“Stalking is a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.

“Stalking behaviour is unwanted, repetitive, and it is almost always carried out one individual towards another.

“We understand it can be difficult for a victim to take the first step and report their concerns to police, however, we always ensure every victim is understood, treated with compassion, they are protected, safeguarded and supported throughout the criminal justice process.

“We want to make sure officers have the right tools to fully support victims throughout the whole process, investigate reports thoroughly and work with criminal justice partners towards prosecution.”

Call handlers in the force control room will also receive bespoke training.

“Our call handlers are often the first point of contact for someone wanting to report their concerns,” Kerry added.

“It is vital they are fully trained in this area and recognise the key differences between incidents of harassment and stalking.”

Stalking is characterised by the acronym FOUR: Fixated, Obsessive, Unwanted, Repeated.

Kerry said: “My main priority is to give victims the confidence to come forward and tell us what is happening. We then need to listen, understand the impact on victims, investigate each report thoroughly, where evidence presents and charges are made, to work with our criminal justice partners in the prosecution.”

She will also be working closely with partner agencies to support victims and manage perpetrators.

“There is no typical description of a stalker. It could be anyone, and often stalking can escalate after a relationship has ended,” she added.

“If these behaviours are left undetected, they could have serious consequences.

“This is why it is so important for us to work with partner agencies to spot the early signs of stalking and to manage the behaviour of known perpetrators to prevent any further incidents.”

Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, and Wales lead for violence against women and girls, said: “We are one of the first forces in the country to introduce this new dedicated stalking co-ordinator, which will transform the service we can offer to victims.

“Stalking is a serious crime that can have a devastating effect on the lives of victims and their family.

“I have made tackling violence against women and girls a force priority, and stalking is a crime which goes to the very heart of this, removing their feeling of safety.

“We will continue to strive to ensure each and every report is fully investigated, and I encourage anyone experiencing stalking to come forward, either to us or to our partner agencies, and we will support you.”

According to research by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, nationally, one in five women and one in 10 men experience stalking.

Kerry added: “My message to anyone who thinks that they might be experiencing stalking is that you are not alone. We will believe you. Look for signs and listen to your gut if something is not right.”

For further information and support regarding stalking, visit What is stalking and harassment? | North Wales Police or contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 8020300.