Latest Blogs Current blogs Valentine's Day: Stalking is not a joke For the past few years, there has been an increase in cards 'joking' about stalking on Valentine's Day. Sites such as Etsy offer a range of cards utilising the topic as a joke, despite the Suzy Lamplugh Trust among others calling for a stop to this. Stalking is a crime in England and Wales, with as many as 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men experiencing stalking throughout their lifetime. In the UK last year, the Office of National Statistics recorded 1.5 million cases of stalking. It is a serious and insidious crime of psychological terror that impacts on all aspects of a victim's life, often in ways that are long-lasting and traumatic. Research conducted by Sussex Stalking Support and the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at the University of Bedfordshire in conjunction with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust indicates that 91% reported that they suffered from mental health problems following the experience of being stalked while 78% met the clinical criteria for PTSD. It is very common for victims to move home, change their careers, lose their relationships and social lives, have significant financial impacts from being stalked, and to live with being anxious and hypervigilant for years after the stalking has ended. It is vital that victims are believed and protected by the criminal justice system. According to research conducted by Dr Jane Monckton Smith, 94% of femicide cases had stalking behaviours after leaving the relationship, demonstrating a clear link between homicide and stalking. When people make a joke about stalking, it trivialises victims' experiences. Emma Barnett, presenter of Woman's Hour BBC Radio 4, says "if you've actually experienced it, it loses its humour-appeal. This trivialises the hell that a lot of people have had to live through for years and reinforces the fact that so many victims have to accept that the person emotionally terrorising them can just continue to do so". Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex Police, states "Many don't recognise stalking behaviours or don't want to make a fuss. Saying 'it's a bit of banter' is what propelled the whole MeToo movement. It's time now for us to call it out: stalking is a crime". To all companies selling items 'joking' about stalking (including Zazzle and Etsy): we ask you to recognise the affect this has on the victim and remove all material to this effect. You are making a joke of a serious crime and perpetrating the continued impact on the victim. This needs to stop. Suzy Lamplugh Trust will continue to campaign and advocate for all victims of stalking, and will continue to support those experiencing this crime through the National Stalking Helpline and the London Stalking Support Service.