Romantic comedy trailer launched to highlight stalking behaviours
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A new romantic comedy trailer has been made to highlight the problematic behaviours which constitute stalking.
The two-minute film shows what appears on the surface as a 'happy couple', however the red flags soon appear with the behaviour escalating when the relationship ends.
Stalking is a pattern of unwanted, repeated behaviour which can leave you feeling scared or distressed. You do not have to be threatened with violence to be a victim of stalking, and any kind of persistent, unwanted contact which causes distress is stalking.
Sometimes stalking behaviours can appear small in isolation, but when they are combined into a pattern which follows the FOUR mnemonic - Fixated, Obsessed, Unwanted, Repeated - then you should record it, keep a log of evidence and report it before it escalates further.
The film premiered at an event at Gloucester Guildhall's cinema yesterday (Tuesday), and is part of Gloucestershire Constabulary's ongoing five-month stalking awareness campaign.
Detective Superintendent Ian Fletcher said: "Stalking can cause utter misery and fear, with a lasting emotional and psychological impact on victims and their families.
"If the behaviour is unwanted it’s not flattering or romantic, and getting unexpected visits to your home or work, having persistent phone calls or messages, or receiving unwanted gifts constitutes stalking.
"This type of persistent behaviour is a common theme of romantic comedy films, but this can often normalise the view that these actions are ok, and that no actually means just try harder in order to win someone's affection.
"Stalking is most often done by someone known to the victim, who becomes fixated and obsessed. Our advice is to not block them but to mute them instead, as otherwise this could make the person feel like they have lost control and their behaviour may escalate, resulting in them approaching the victim, or other serious consequences.
"Keep a log of anything which happens, regardless of how small you feel it may be, and contact the police. There are a range of things we can do in order to disrupt the person's behaviour, such as Stalking Protections Orders, which for example can block contact or attempts to make contact, create exclusion zones or order people to not post on social media with reference to a victim. A breach is a criminal offence, and these are tools available to us to manage perpetrators."
The rom-com trailer has already started to be broadcast across Gloucestershire on television and online, with film poster style artwork encouraging people to recognise the FOUR signs of stalking being advertised on digital screens at Tesco stores, bus stops and on the back of buses across the county.
The campaign aims to educate on the 'red flags' which are common in the early stages of stalking, but are sometimes misidentified as harmless or even desirable behaviours - a myth perpetrated through romantic comedies.
Det Supt Fletcher, the Constabulary's domestic abuse and stalking lead, added: "It can take up to 100 incidents before someone reports one event to police which has concerned them.
"Our multi-agency stalking hub will assess high risk cases to ensure a joined up approach to dealing with the offender and safeguarding the victim, and through that, the team often uncovers a pattern of behaviour which has gone on for a prolonged period of time.
"Our aim of the campaign is for people, whether that is family or friends of someone who has an abusive ex-partner, to recognise the signs at the earliest opportunity, so that this can be reported to police and we can put measures in place to prevent things from escalating and get the victim support."
As part of the campaign a series of videos which focus on the experience of a stalking victim are being published across the Constabulary's social media channels.
Next month (July) there will be engagement events held across the county, where friends and family can get advice to understand the best way they can support a victim.
The campaign has been funded by Gloucestershire's Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner with money secured through the Home Office Safer Streets fund.
Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson said: "With the help of the millions of pounds secured by my office through the Government's Safer Streets Fund, we are aiming to influence people's behaviour for the better.
"Our research shows a huge rise in stalking and harassment, while recent, high profile cases, have catapulted these ever present crimes out of the shadows and into the light.
"The time to address systematic violence against women is now, and we are working with our partners with the shared goal of tackling male violence and intimidation against women and girls, of which stalking is just one element.
"As a county we want to see cultural change so that women and girls no longer have to adapt their own behaviour to protect themselves from street harassment, and as Police and Crime Commissioner, I have made it one of my top priorities."
For further advice about spotting the signs of stalking and how to report it and seek support, visit www.talkingstalking.com. In an emergency always call 999.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. It is often called 'Clare's Law' after the landmark case that led to it.