Reflecting upon National Stalking Awareness Week 2017 This year, for our hugely successful National Stalking Awareness Week, we asked people to be aware of the obsession and fixation that motivates stalking as opposed to the behaviours that stalkers display. Imagine having a coffee with a friend and telling the story of another friend moving your garden furniture around before your birthday to help get ready for the party. The motivation there is to help you out; nothing odd about that. Now imagine telling the same story but it’s your resentful ex-partner who has moved the garden furniture to leave you a message that he has been on your property and seen you in your house. Both behaviours are the same but it is the motivation for them which makes one a risk factor and one harmless. Often when people call the National Stalking Helpline they tell us that the police don’t appreciate the difference and do not understand why receiving a few text messages, or a bunch of flowers from a stranger or an indecipherable note on a car window is threatening. Stalking is a course of conduct motivated by fixation and obsession and it is a crime. It can lead to emotional and mental trauma, physical violence, and in the worst of circumstances: murder. During National Stalking Awareness Week, we released a report with the University of Gloucestershire showing the link between stalking and homicide. We asked criminal justice professionals to identify stalking through intention, not just actions and to measure the severity of stalking not through the severity of actions, but through frequency. We continue to ask criminal justice professionals and the public to identify stalking early, as this is when it is more likely that the behaviour can be prevented from escalating. All the lessons from Dr Jane Monckton Smith’s report were brought home to us with the culmination of the trial of Trimaan Dhillon, found guilty of murdering Alice Ruggles. Dhillon initially targeted Alice, looking to begin a relationship with her, on Facebook. He was controlling and manipulative during their short relationship and resented the end of their relationship, continuing to pursue her via text, hacking into her Facebook account, loitering outside her house, and threatening her. Unfortunately, Alice’s case is a clear example of Dr Monckton Smith’s work: that stalking behaviours need to be taken seriously and that the risk that stalking represents should be identified through intention, not just actions. Suzy Lamplugh Trust has been supporting Alice’s family through the trial and will be working with them to help raise awareness of Alice’s story and the need to take stalking seriously. We are delighted that so many people supported National Stalking Awareness Week this year. Calls to the National Stalking Helpline have increased over the last week, as more people take the first step in seeking help to address the stalking they are experiencing. We would be happy to work with police forces and service providers to join forces to raise awareness of this insidious crime and help people understand that #StalkingMatters. If you would like to get in touch with us to find out more about how we can support you in dealing with stalking please contact us here, if you would like to donate to the National Stalking Helpline, please see here.