ON the first anniversary of new anti-stalking legislations, a North-East police officer has joined a number of charities in saying more still needs to be done to protect victims.

One in five women and one in ten men in the UK have experienced stalking, according to a statement issued by anti-stalking charities.

On November 25, 2012, the law was amended to allow for the prosecution of stalkers – those who obsessively harass their victims, often by following them or persistently making unwanted contact.

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Organisations including the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the National Stalking Advocacy Service marked the anniversary by calling for more training, awareness and funding in relation to the issue.

Their statement said: “On this day, it is important to recognise that more needs to be done to protect victims of stalking across the UK.

“This includes mandatory training for criminal justice professionals, widespread access to specialist information and advocacy, professional psychological and emotional support for victims of stalking and treatment for perpetrators.”

DC Lynsey Eglington, of Darlington Police’s Safeguarding Unit, backed the call for more awareness as she described stalking as an intrusive crime that can have a huge detrimental impact on victims.

She said: “We are certainly heading in the right direction and over the years there has been huge changes for the better.

“There is always a need to review and develop further. The key is to ensure we have the correct awareness surrounding this to ensure we as professionals reduce any barriers, which prevent victims from coming forward.

“No victim should suffer in silence. The key focus is to increase the advertisement and awareness surrounding this abuse, just like we did when domestic violence was known as a taboo subject years and years ago.”

She added: “There can never really be a cut off point for training and development, as not having an understanding or appreciation of the risk these offenders pose to the victims can result in some cases in murder.

“This type of abuse can escalate rapidly and result in serious significant harm.

“As professionals we must not become complacent or judgemental. We must ensure we listen hard to what the victim is telling us.”